The bicycle highway: Plans unveiled for £220m ‘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 first phase is a four mile stretch from east London to Liverpool Street Station would cost an estimated £220m.

I want to ride my bicycle: The SkyCycle, as proposed new network of cycle paths built above London’s railways

Each of the 10 proposed routes can accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and will improve journey times by up to 29 minutes, it is claimed

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.

Lord Foster said: ‘Cycling is one of my great passions – particularly with a group of friends. And I believe that cities where you can walk or cycle, rather than drive, are more congenial places in which to live.

‘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.

Cycling in London is on the rise as a result of increasing congestion and rising fuel costs. A cyclist receives emergency medical treatment after being involved in an accident with a lorry in Camden, east London, in November. Six cyclists died in a two week period that same month.File pictures.Road safety in London recently came to the fore after six cyclists were killed on the capital’s roads in the space of under two weeks in November.

Brian Holt, 62; Francis Golding, 69, Roger William De Klerk, 43, Venera Minakhmetova, 24, a 21-year-old man from St John’s Wood and a man believed to be in his 60s all died between November 5 and 18.

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.’


Over the last decade, cycling has grown by 70 per cent – on major roads the number of cyclists has increased by 173 per cent.

However, this still only translates as two per cent of all journeys and falls short of many other UK and European cities.

Road safety is a key factor: Between 2006 and 2011, the number of cycling casualties rose by half.

Cycling accounts for just two per cent of daily journeys, but 20 per cent of deaths and serious casualties on the roads.

London’s population is expected to grow by 12 per cent over the next decade, matching and then exceeding its previous high of 8.6million in 1939.


Bedbikecity join in A Four-Way Dialogue between Dalang and EU

A New Approach of Urbanization in China:The Case of Dalang

The process of urbanization in Europe benefits from diversified approaches,which result in a lively ecosystem comprised of villages,towns,and cities of various sizes.Distinctive from the building-form-scratch way in the United States,European urbanization has to both take into consideration the remarkable cultural traditions,and strive for innovations based on those traditions. This provides China with valueable examples.

In China’s current urbanization movement,Dalang stands not only for a typical industry-based community,but also a representing case of an immigrant society.This dual identity creates both strength and challenges for Dalang in its process of urbanization.Today,with the gathering of domestic and international experts and scholars from the fields of urbanization,urban reinvigoration,social development,and environmental reservation,this forum hopes to bring forth thought provoking conversations about the development of Dalang and China’s urbanization,what we should do and where we can learn from.

The happening of this forum partly relies on the efforts of the volunteers.We hope the forum couldalso help to make known Dalang’s advocacy for “a fashionable silicon valley and an eco-friendly Dalang,”both aiming at boosting the sense of belonging andfulfillment of Dalang’s young workers.


Love you easy? – cycling rights in Beijing issues cited Focus attention of CCTV

Haze frequent advocate, shall we start the bike trip? The CCTV  reporter Beijing cycling experience , a short way like to get the cart up and down the flyover either have to compete with the bus road, from time to time but also driven by the car horn. The most depressing rode in front of the signs prohibiting bicycles …… reporter lamented, cycling is not only physical consumption, refining guts, also discriminated against … Recently, Beijing bicycle right-of-way issues causing the famous CCTV  news feature programs focus attention, the program not only reveals ride in Beijing predicament, in contrasting forms of Shenzhen since 2007 and focus on building Bikecity experience to give appreciation and praise, and that the Shenzhen practice since 2006 should be the example of the capital city  Beijing and other cities .

Click here to watch the TV program

Bedbikecity comments:

Perhaps because of the emerging haze days, we Chinese people began to reflect on our own lifestyles. Chinese people used to be longing for the life of to own their own cars, cars brings convenience while vehicle pollution also. So now there are more and more people called to restart the old tradition of cycling. As a former bicycle big country, how can we back to it? Short distance cycling convenient, worth money, health, green – Wyatt line(Bikecity). But now, bike riding, really easy to do? Bikecity action since 2007 from Shenzhen made everything go back to basics, it is hoped that more attention on  cycling  rights in the city today, perhaps thanks to the desperate haze gift, this problems are also caused by a the CCTV reporter concern,we hope its influence “to remedy the situation is not too late.”