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Julia Thayne

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Why The Skycycle Would Never Work

Writing for Future Cape Town, this article by Julia Thayne - originally titled The Skycycle: A Plan for the People? - explores the proposal by Foster + Partners to build an elevated cycle highway above London's, explaining why it is little more than an optimistic pipe-dream.

Headlines in London this November were grim. Six cyclist deaths in less than a fortnight. All but one cyclist killed in accidents involving trucks, buses, or coaches. People were understandably concerned. From 3,000 miles away, my mother sent me a fluorescent coat and another set of bike lights, and as a cyclist commuter, I avoided roundabouts that I had previously sailed through, noting that cars seemed to be driving more slowly and other cyclists thinking twice before flouting traffic laws.

In response to the deaths, the public and public sector alike launched a “cycling state of emergency.” Officers patrolled the streets to ticket both vehicles driving unsafely and cyclists disobeying road rules. A thousand citizens gathered for a candlelight vigil at the roundabout where three cyclists’ lives had been claimed. Another thousand staged a “die-in” outside of Transport for London’s headquarters, in which protesters lay down in the streets, using their bicycles to block traffic. Newspaper columns, magazine articles, and blog spots examined and re-examined the safety of cycling routes around London. Mayor Boris Johnson’s Cycle Superhighways (four blue-painted, supposedly safety-enhanced cycling routes around London) became a particularly contentious topic of discussion, as three of the six cyclist deaths during those two weeks (and of the 14 deaths thus far in 2013) had occurred on or near one of these routes.

From the conversation about cycling and safety, the Skycycle has emerged.

Read on for the problems with the Skycycle project