Would a Subterranean Bicycling Network in London Succeed?
Some of the best architecture and design ideas come out of London, and it is easy to see why. The United Kingdom’s capital draws talent from all over the world, including professionals who have to find creative ways to thrive in this old, congested and expensive metropolis. Now the design firm Gensler has proposed converting some of the unused and abandoned London metro tunnels into a network of bicycling paths and pedestrian walkways.
The London Underline would transform unused metro paths between key transit points including Green Park, Charing Cross and Wolburn. In order to make the project more financially viable, retail spaces such as pop-up stores would be at the ends of each tunnel. Another suggestion that offers a “cool” factor but will make many smirk is the installation of flooring that will generate kinetic energy, allowing the tunnels to function without unnecessary strain on the city’s grid.
The vision for future bicycling in London certainly sounds fantastic in an era where ideas for smart cities are all the rage, but a reality check is needed. But as Guardian journalist Feargus O’Sullivan points out, commuters may not be thrilled with the reality of such a project. The London Underline could work—except some of the transit points are connected to pedestrian walkways where bicycles are not allowed. True, London’s bicycle sharing program has had its share of success, but the average London office worker will not want to snag a big, pedal several hundred meters, walk some more, then repeat the process. Nevertheless, it is a concept worth exploring; and considering London’s massive amount of visitors, I could see this becoming a highlight for tourists as they explore past remnants of London’s public transportation system.
Image credit: Gensler