A group of architects, designers, engineers and other built environment professionals have come up with a plan to capitalise on a ‘once-in-a-century’ opportunity and help cycling for all in London.
Bike Lines London is the brainchild of a WhatsApp group of property cyclists, all members of Club Peloton, that goes by the name of Never Too Busy to Cycle. Their scheme, outlined in an open letter to London mayor Sadiq Khan, envisages a ‘radical’ and radial network of adapted cycling-and-public-transport-only streets along tube routes into the city core, whose central carriageway is devoted to a two-way bike lane. “This is a once in a century opportunity to put infrastructure in place that will get the people who find it scary, to cycle in”, said Terry Crawford of the group and contractor Forcia, speaking to Velocity this week on his Brompton as he cycled up Brighton’s Madeira Drive, the road closed off to traffic to act as extra space in which to exercise during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The group has prepared visuals including a map showing how the new bike lines will work along with a CGI of a section of the route. Crawford explained that there has been great infrastructure already in place, as well as Street Space on the way but they are all like ‘little islands’. ‘What you need are like rivers that go from one place to another’, he said. A key driver of the ambitious provocation, based on the tube system, is to provide safer environments in which people can cycle, but Crawford warned that time is running out in which to get a joined up network of pop-up infrastructure – albeit uncosted – with the maximum impact. ‘This is an opportunity to get space that hopefully we will never have to give back’, he said. Crawford’s message to Sadiq Khan and Will Norman? ‘We’re here to help’, he said. ‘And we want them to think big’.
In a statement, Chris Dyson, Architect and a member of Bike Lines London added:
“Over the past 10 weeks in lockdown, we have seen people taking to the streets on bike and on foot. They have been exploring their local areas more, and reliance on the private car has decreased. As a result, more Londoners are reaping health benefits and enjoying improved air quality. With lockdown easing, and people beginning to return to their daily commutes, it is crucial that we look at how we can build on the positive trends we have seen and help people get to work in a healthier, safer and more sustainable way. The plan we have suggested to Sadiq Khan is radical and would see all the main arterial routes given over to public transport, safe cycling and walking, aside from essential emergency and delivery access. We know there are many who will oppose it and say that the private car is needed. But cars can continue to use other routes. We need to look at the long-term legacy and health of our city. There are so many benefits to this plan, it would improve health, air quality and safety. It will reinvigorate our high streets, building more localised communities and reinforcing their sense of place.
Our group came together not only because we are all keen cyclists but because we care about our city. Those who design and build our city have an important role in helping to shape a healthier, more sustainable future for it. Our day to day jobs see us shape our towns and cities and we understand all the constraints, challenges and issues facing stakeholders. The plan we have suggested to Sadiq Khan in our letter is brave, but it is vital to help London to recover from the pandemic and make the city a better place for all those who visit, live and work here.”