Norman Foster’s Vision for a More Cycling-Friendly London Jan 7, 2014


British architect Norman Foster’s newest project proposal isn’t a giant building with a spaceship-like façade. Instead, it’s an urban adaptive reuse project:

Foster + Partners has unveiled a scheme that aims to transform London’s railways into cycling freeways. The seemingly plausible proposal, which was designed with the help of landscape firm Exterior Architecture and transportation consultant Space Syntax, would connect more than six million residents to an elevated network of car-free bicycle paths built above London’s existing railway lines if approved.

“SkyCycle is a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city,” said Norman Foster, who is both a regular cyclist and the president of Britain’s National Byway Trust. ”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.”

“To improve the quality of life for all in London and to encourage a new generation of cyclists, we have to make it safe,” he added. ”However, the greatest barrier to segregating cars and cyclists is the physical constraint of London’s streets, where space is already at a premium.”

The 220-kilometer SkyCycle, which has already received backing from Network Rail and Transport for London, would provide a safer and cheaper alternative to constructing new roads. Nearby residents would access the suspended pathway via 200 entrance points, all connected to the street by ramps and hydraulic platforms.”

Read more here.

  • Adam Miller

    It would be pretty awesome to see something like this built. has a more pessimistic view, but I think the argument “we shouldn’t build cycling paths because drivers will think bikes don’t belong on the road” is problematic.

    We need to be saying “segregated paths are ideal for cycling” AND “cyclists have every right to be on the road.”

    (Also, does anyone else get the idea that the writer has an ax to grind with Norman Foster?)

    • Foster’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the years. The Swiss Re building wasn’t exactly a welcomed addition to the London skyline.

      • recurrecur

        More welcome than the Shard

    • Rich May

      Adam, you’ve got it right on with this. We really could use some more segregated cycleways here in London, but the last thing we need is politics and infrastructure that reinforce the view that motor vehicles own the roads.

      • Adam Miller

        Yeah. All other things being equal, it would be pretty awesome if you could ride in a separate lane, with killer view to boot.

        But all other things are not equal, and it could easily be interpreted as a concession to Motordom.

  • CM

    ha, I looked at this on my RSS feeder and thought it was from streetsblog. cool post though – I like the architecture inspired stuff. keep it coming

  • Silly brits. Cycling is about freedom, and going wherever you want to go. Put cars up there! Make the streets safer for everyone!