The Bicycle Highway

December 30, 2013 by Stephen Auerbach - 3 Comments

SKYCYCLE – Coming to a city near you? It’s 350 million dollars to build the first four miles but wouldn’t it be real nice! It’s the Bicycle Highway, a proposed elevated track above London, exclusive to cyclists.  It’s build above the train lines that criss cross the city.   While this might be expensive, I hope that ideas like this can be moved forward for in the long run innovation, not messaging, might be the best way to make cycling a safer activity.  There are some inherent contradictions in the notion of cyclists and vehicles sharing the roads.  We should think long-term and begin moving toward solutions which separate cyclist and drivers.  It would be my ideal for the city of the future.  I may never ride upon Bicycle Skyways, and my yet -to- be born grandchildren might not either, but maybe in 75 years a solution like “SkyCycle,’ will be spread far and wide.  While the price tag may seem high, if you think about the many tens (or is it hundreds)  of billions thrown around by the semi-crooks in D.C., maybe it’s time to commit 100 billion dollars to innovations like this.   How’s this for a platform for a Presidential candidate.  The Bicycling President.  He or she would get my vote.  The more we move to cycling for daily activities and leisure and even sport, the healthier and happier the human race will be.  So let’s get busy – skycycle above Manhattan or Los Angeles anyone?

The Bicycle Highway: Plans unveiled for 350 million dollar ‘Skycycle’ that lets riders commute far above the railways of London

  • ‘SkyCycle’ is a proposal for a series of three-storey-high paths
  • It has been proposed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster
  • Each of the 10 routes would be used by estimated 12,000 cyclists per hour
  • Cyclist safety in London is a key concern following a spate of deaths

Plans for a network of cycle pathways high above the streets of London have been unveiled by one of the world’s most prominent architects.

SkyCycle is a 135-mile network of roads that would be constructed above existing suburban rail lines to create new cycle routes throughout the capital and has been developed by cycling enthusiast Sir Norman Foster, who designed St Mary Axe, known as ‘The Gherkin’, and the new Wembley Stadium.

The three-storey high routes would be accessed via ramps at more than 200 points.The developers say almost six million people live within the catchment area of the proposed network, half of whom live and work within 10 minutes of an entrance.

Each of the 10 proposed routes can accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and will improve journey times by up to 29 minutes, the developers added. They also claim the scheme, which would be built over 20 years, providing capacity at a much lower cost than building new roads and tunnels.


Three storeys high
10 mph – average cycle speed in London
15 mph – estimated speed after SkyCycle
20 feet wide decks
20 years to build
29 minutes less journey time
135 miles over existing railway services
12,000 cyclists per hour
5.8 million people live close to proposed route
350 million to build first four-mile stretch

‘To improve the quality of life for all in London and to encourage a new generation of cyclists, we have to make it safe.
‘However, the greatest barrier to segregating cars and cyclists is the physical constraint of London’s streets, where space is already at a premium. ‘SkyCycle is a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city. By using the corridors above the suburban railways, we could create a world-class network of safe, car-free cycle routes that are ideally located for commuters.’

The developers – Exterior Architecture, Foster + Partners and Space Syntax – added that London’s railway lines were originally built for steam trains and as a result follow contours that naturally reduce the amount of energy expended and avoid steep gradients, a boon for cyclists.

Sam Martin of Exterior Architecture Ltd said: ‘SkyCycle is an urban cycling solution for London. A cycling utopia, with no buses, no cars and no stress.

‘We are incredibly excited at how, together with Foster + Partners, our idea has been developed and now more recently turned into a truly world-changing scenario by Space Syntax for revolutionising cycling in London and possibly the world.’

However, cycling charity CTC has raised concerns over the wind exposure cyclist would face at such a height, and the steepness of the ramps required to reach the SkyCycle.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: ‘We welcome the proposals which have been put forward by Foster + Partners and Exterior Architecture and are always happy to look at ways we can contribute to improving travel and transport in London.

‘We will continue to liaise with all involved as the aspiration for this innovative scheme develops.’