In a world of spacecraft, jet planes, fast cars and super bikes, bicycles could hardly be the last thing commuters would aspire to own for status or speed. But then if we look further bicycles could be the perfect solution to our sedentary lifestyles, traffic congestion, pollution from petroleum powered engines and maybe even our degrading environment.
“Bikes already make up 24% of all rush-hour traffic in central London and scores of cities around the world are experimenting with hundreds of thousands of journeys every day that would otherwise be made by car or public transport. Getting more people on to their bikes will reduce pressure on the road, bus and rail networks, cut pollution and improve life for everyone, whether or not they cycle themselves.”
Some of the bicycle infrastructure and experiments conducted around the world are as follows,
Floating cycle path
One group of designers have proposed a different approach to cycling in London: Why not add a bike lane to the water?
The proposed Thames Deckway Project would float in the Thames for seven miles, from residential neighborhoods to one of the city’s financial districts, allowing cyclists to completely avoid traffic.
“It’s a 30-minute ride across London from beginning to end,”said David Nixon, architect and co-founder of the Ricer Cycleway Consortium, the organisation behind the proposals. “You can’t even do that on the underground system in London, let alone on any of the roads.”
The floating path would have four lanes – two in each direction and the type of use would change throughout the day. During peak times, all four lanes would be for fast-moving cyclists but at other times, one lane in each direction would be used by pedestrians.
Another alternative unveiled at the beginning of the year is SkyCycle – a network of elevated bike paths above railway lines.
The project has the backing of Network Rail and Transport for London and would see over 220km of car-free routes installed over London’s suburban rail network, suspended on pylons above the tracks and accessed at over 200 entrance points.
“By using the corridors above the suburban railways, we could create a world-class netwok of safe, car-free cycle routes that are ideally located for commuters,” Norman Foster, one of the masterminds behind the idea.
The proposed network would cover a catchment area of six million people, half of whom live and work within 10 minutes of an entrance. But the developers have bigger ambitions.
“The dream is that you could wake up in Paris and cycle to the Gare du Nord,” Sam Martin of Exterior Architecture said. “Then get the train to Stratford and cycle straight into central London, without worrying about trucks and buses.”
The Netherlands has always been ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to cycling, so it’s no surprise that the world’s first suspended cycle path roundabout was constructed between the cities of Eindhoven and Veldhoven.
In the centre of the structure is a 70 metre high pylon with 24 steel cables connecting everything together to create a “flying saucer” like effect, with cars driving underneath, not interfering with the cyclists.
The circular bridge hasn’t been without problems since it first opened in 2011 though and it had to be closed for safety reasons after the suspension cables were vibrating too much.
The Hovenring finally opened to the public in June 2012, with m-shaped supports in place to make it safer. City officials estimate that 5,000 bikes cycle over it every day, making it one of the busiest bicycle ways in the country, while 25,000 cars share the space below.
Last month the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, revealed his plans for 18 miles of new cycle paths across London. The plans include to continue cycle routes almost completely separate from traffic, across the city from east to west and north to south.
Protected cycle routes will be created through some of the most dangerous junctions, including Tower Hill, Blackfriars, Parliament Square and Lancaster Gate. If the plans receive support from the public, the routes will be constructed early next year and will open in March 2016.
What do you think the future of cycling in cities is? Let us know in the comments below…