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Pie in the sky or cycling revolution? SkyCycle proposal could become East End reality

An artist's impression of the SkyCycle network. Picture: Foster and Partners. An artist's impression of the SkyCycle network. Picture: Foster and Partners.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
4:12 PM

It looks like something out of a science-fiction film, but SkyCycle — a series of elevated cycle pathways running through the capital — could become a reality near you.

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With 14 cyclist deaths in London last year alone, many along designated cycle superhighways, finding a way to separate motorists from more vulnerable two-wheeled road users has become a top priority.

Designers Exterior Architecture, Foster and Partners and consultants Space Syntax, are currently focusing on a trial route from Liverpool Street Station to Stratford following the path of the Overground line.

The 6.5km stretch could cost in the region of £220 million to construct.

Self-professed cycling enthusiast Lord Norman Foster, founder of Foster and Partners, said SkyCycle is a “lateral approach to finding space in a congested city.”

“The greatest barrier to segregating cars and cyclists is the physical constraint of London’s streets, where space is already at a premium,” he added.

“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.”

If the project were to go ahead almost six million people would live within its catchment area. Half of them would be within 10 minutes of an entrance onto the elevated skyway.

Each route could accommodate up to 12,000 cyclists per hour and would improve journey times by up to 29 minutes, according to Lord Foster.

However funding remains a issue with the designers currently looking for backing to dung a feasibility study.

Sustrans deputy director for London Matt Winfield said: “There are some real concerns about how it might work.

“I think it needs a lot more thought but the big thing for us is that people are throwing these ideas up.

“But we aren’t sure how it actually will make more people cycle.”

A spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign said: “It’s a great one for the future but it’s the far distant future. There’s more pressing infrastructure things that could be done now with a lower price tag on them.”

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