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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    SkyCycle proposed for London

    I've seen a few articles about this idea in the last few days. It's controversial because of the cost, of course. But some bicycle advocates were against the idea for other reasons.

    "Gliding through the air on a bike might so far be confined to the fantasy realms of singing nannies and aliens in baskets, but riding over rooftops could one day form part of your regular commute to work, if Norman Foster has his way.

    "Unveiled this week, in an appropriately light-headed vision for the holiday season, SkyCycle proposes a network of elevated bike paths hoisted aloft above railway lines, allowing you to zip through town blissfully liberated from the roads.

    "The project, which has the backing of Network Rail and Transport for London, would see over 220km of car-free routes installed above London's suburban rail network, suspended on pylons above the tracks and accessed at over 200 entrance points. At up to 15 metres wide, each of the ten routes would accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and improve journey times by up to 29 minutes, according to the designers.
    ..."
    ---By Oliver Wainwright in the guardian.com

    What do you think of this proposal? Do you see it as progress for cyclists, or just another scheme to keep us off the public streets? Would you like to ride on the SkyCycle path?


    http://www.theguardian.com/artanddes...-routes-london
    Last edited by Roody; 01-06-14 at 05:42 AM.


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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I immediately thought of the Dobbins Veloway created in Pasadena California in the late 19th Century. Now having read the whole article, I see they mention it too.




    At first this seems delightful, maybe urban planners are getting it. Then I think about the hill required to climb up to such a structure. Then I wonder if they are just trying to force car-centric thinking on bicyclists. Then I wonder if it would go where I wanted to get and whether it might be faster to just ride on surface streets than to deal with the detour. Without having specific knowledge of the needs of bicyclists there, its hard to comment.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 01-06-14 at 08:16 AM.
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    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    220 kms of bike route on suspended pylons? Anyone does a cost analysis?

    Also anyone done a wind analysis?

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    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I like it. I don't think it could be used to force cyclists off the surface streets, since (a) cyclists are a large lobby group in the UK, and (b) it would only cover a very limited number of rights of way, and wherever you got on and off you would have to use the surface streets to connect. And if it brings more cyclists into the city centre, it wouldn't make sense not to allow them to ride up to it or away from it. In fact, since it is above the tracks, it doesn't even have a parallel street directly below it from which cyclists could hypothetically be banned.

    It would probably need some kind of wind shielding from the sides, so people aren't buffeted sideways, but it might have brutal headwinds or brilliant tail winds, expecially where it passes between taller buildings that might create a wind tunnel effect. However that is also true on ordinary streets.

    You'd have to ride up and down to get on and off, but once on it, it could possible even out a lot of natural rises and dips along the way.
    Last edited by cooker; 01-06-14 at 10:58 AM.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    What do you think of this proposal? Do you see it as progress for cyclists, or just another scheme to keep us off the public streets? Would you like to ride on the SkyCycle path?
    What other schemes are you referring to intended to keep us [bicyclists?] off the public streets?
    Would I like to ride it? Sure, just so I don't have to pay for what looks like an obscenely expensive project with doubtful value.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    What other schemes are you referring to intended to keep us [bicyclists?] off the public streets?
    Would I like to ride it? Sure, just so I don't have to pay for what looks like an obscenely expensive project with doubtful value.
    Perhaps he heard of Mia Burke and her anger over the fact that many cyclists choose to not ride on her "bike boulevards" in Portland, OR. She is now either trying to expand Oregon's mandatory-use law to restrict cyclists from riding on roads that parallel a designated bike route or she is hoping others will make that happen.

    I'll have to do more digging than I have time for now, but apparently she was in a car that was delayed a few seconds by a cyclist and that got her angry at the fact that cyclists were riding in the wrong, according to her, place. If you really want the details, you should PM Spare_Wheel; he always seems to know about these sort of things in PDX.

    Then again, maybe the OP is just referring to a certain mayor in Canada and his nonsensical rantings.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cooker View Post
    I like it. I don't think it could be used to force cyclists off the surface streets, since (a) cyclists are a large lobby group in the UK, and (b) it would only cover a very limited number of rights of way, and wherever you got on and off you would have to use the surface streets to connect. And if it brings more cyclists into the city centre, it wouldn't make sense not to allow them to ride up to it or away from it. In fact, since it is above the tracks, it doesn't even have a parallel street directly below it from which cyclists could hypothetically be banned.

    It would probably need some kind of wind shielding from the sides, so people aren't buffeted sideways, but it might have brutal headwinds or brilliant tail winds, expecially where it passes between taller buildings that might create a wind tunnel effect. However that is also true on ordinary streets.

    You'd have to ride up and down to get on and off, but once on it, it could possible even out a lot of natural rises and dips along the way.
    Would the wind be any stronger than at ground level? The structure would be built over railways, so it doesn't seem like it would go between tall buildings. I recall another proposed sky path would have had a clear plastic tube around it to block wind and rain, which made it resemble a hamster habi-trail.

    The ramps do look a bit steep for some commuters. The article mentioned hydraulic platform lifts, which would help those who can't manage the ramps. Also, some cyclists would use bike share bikes that would be docked at the same level as the ramps.

    I don't think this project would be cost effective in very many places, but the numbers look good for a mega-city like London. Three million people live and work within 10 minutes of an entrance. If five percent commuted on the Sky path, that would be 300,000 one-way trips per day. That compares favorably with bus rapid transit and subways, which max out at about 20,000 and 700,000 daily trips respectively, and the bike thing would probably cost less to construct and operate.
    Last edited by Roody; 01-06-14 at 01:46 PM.


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    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Would the wind be any stronger than at ground level? The structure would be built over railways, so it doesn't seem like it would go between tall buildings.
    The Heathrow Express comes into Paddington Station past some midsize towers. I guess it would depend on how far into the centre of town the SkyCycle thingee would go, and whether there is any surface rail there to build over.

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    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Is there really 220km of above ground rail in London? I thought it was mostly subways, with the trains going right out of town. I've only been there once but that's what I remember.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Would the wind be any stronger than at ground level? The structure would be built over railways, so it doesn't seem like it would go between tall buildings. I recall another proposed sky path would have had a clear plastic tube around it to block wind and rain, which made it resemble a hamster habi-trail.

    The ramps do look a bit steep for some commuters. The article mentioned hydraulic platform lifts, which would help those who can't manage the ramps. Also, some cyclists would use bike share bikes that would be docked at the same level as the ramps.

    I don't think this project would be cost effective in very many places, but the numbers look good for a mega-city like London. Three million people live and work within 10 minutes of an entrance. If five percent commuted on the Sky path, that would be 300,000 one-way trips per day. That compares favorably with bus rapid transit and subways, which max out at about 20,000 and 700,000 daily trips respectively, and the bike thing would probably cost less to construct and operate.
    1. Have you ever been on a long bridge? Yes, there's a good chance the wind would be stronger at higher elevations.

    2. The article doesn't mention anything in the way of maintenance, and that's often an overlooked factor when building anything new. It looks great in the artist drawing, it looks great when it is built ... but not so great when those hydraulic platform lifts break down. Maintenance costs money.

    3. The article doesn't mention anything in the way of vandalism prevention or fixing the damage from vandalism. Again, it might look great in the artist drawing and when it is freshly built, but not so nice when someone has set fire to part of it. Preventing vandalism and fixing the damage from vandalism costs money.


    So ... before they build, they need to factor those costs into it all.

  11. #11
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    1. Have you ever been on a long bridge? Yes, there's a good chance the wind would be stronger at higher elevations.

    2. The article doesn't mention anything in the way of maintenance, and that's often an overlooked factor when building anything new. It looks great in the artist drawing, it looks great when it is built ... but not so great when those hydraulic platform lifts break down. Maintenance costs money.

    3. The article doesn't mention anything in the way of vandalism prevention or fixing the damage from vandalism. Again, it might look great in the artist drawing and when it is freshly built, but not so nice when someone has set fire to part of it. Preventing vandalism and fixing the damage from vandalism costs money.


    So ... before they build, they need to factor those costs into it all.
    Maybe you should write and inform them that there will be upkeep costs, in case they never thought of it. And no, I've never been on a bridge. What's it like? Windy, huh?
    Last edited by Roody; 01-07-14 at 02:25 AM.


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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Maybe you should write and inform them that there will be upkeep costs, in case they never thought of it. And no, I've never been on a bridge. What's it like?
    Oh, I'm sure The Powers That Be have thought of it. That's probably partly why they're thinking of only starting with a small section to see how it goes ... and if it does not go ahead, those are likely strong reasons why not. However, I do find the lack of mention of those things in the article interesting.

    And bridges are windy places ... the wind can knock you off balance when you're both walking and cycling. Surely you've got some long bridges in your area you can cycle to and see.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
    Is there really 220km of above ground rail in London? I thought it was mostly subways, with the trains going right out of town. I've only been there once but that's what I remember.
    There's a little map of the proposed SkyCycle in the Daily Mail, along with a couple additional facts and figures:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ys-London.html


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Oh, I'm sure The Powers That Be have thought of it. That's probably partly why they're thinking of only starting with a small section to see how it goes ... and if it does not go ahead, those are likely strong reasons why not. However, I do find the lack of mention of those things in the article interesting.

    And bridges are windy places ... the wind can knock you off balance when you're both walking and cycling. Surely you've got some long bridges in your area you can cycle to and see.
    Norman Foster, the designer of SkyCycle, is one of the most famous architects in the world and winner of the Pritzker Prize. He's designed many skyscrapers and other structures that are affected by winds, including the tallest bridge in the world.

    Unfortunately, he also designed the Millennium footbridge over the Thames, which had to be closed down for a couple years and partially rebuilt because it wobbled in the wind. So hopefully Lord Foster will be extra careful if he gets a chance to build this SkyCycle thing.

    I'm guessing that wind will be one consideration, but possibly not a huge problem for a structure that looks like it won't be elevated more than 10 or 12 meters. Of course as cyclists we are more vulnerable to the wind than cars, trains or even pedestrians. I guess Foster is also quite a cyclist, so he must be aware of this issue.

    Funding hasn't even been set for a feasibility study, so I doubt if details about maintenance schedules have been fully established. It wouldn't be customary to publish these details in the press at such an early stage, would it?
    Last edited by Roody; 01-07-14 at 03:38 AM.


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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Funding hasn't even been set for a feasibility study, so I doubt if details about maintenance schedules have been fully established. It wouldn't be customary to publish these details in the press at such an early stage, would it?
    If they've got an idea that the first 6.5 km of the project could cost 220 million ... they'll likely have a number in mind for ongoing maintenance and vandalism issues. All those numbers, plus the potential cost of the feasibility study, will have to be presented in the proposal in order for the feasibility study to get the go ahead.

    But 220 million is such a large number for such a short section of "bicycle path", they probably don't want to mention any more expenses at this point.

    After the feasibility study comes the community consultation ... and 220 million is enough to create mixed feelings among the community.

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    But 220 million is such a large number for such a short section of "bicycle path", they probably don't want to mention any more expenses at this point.
    I wonder how much 6.5 kms. of motorway cost nowadays.
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I wonder how much 6.5 kms. of motorway cost nowadays.
    Depends on the road, of course ... but a road section of that length can be built for considerably less than that.

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Depends on the road, of course ... but a road section of that length can be built for considerably less than that.
    Are you sure about that?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13924687
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    Are you sure about that?
    Absolutely.

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Absolutely.
    How about providing some facts and figures and backing them up with sources?
    Last edited by Ekdog; 01-07-14 at 02:52 PM.
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    I had a quick look around and found this. It ain't cheap.

    New Build


    A1(M) in North Yorkshire (dual three lane motorway with hard shoulders through flat open countryside) - 16.5million/km (EUR20.5million/km)
    A46 in Nottinghamshire (dual two lane road in fairly flat open countryside) - 13.5million/km (EUR17million/km)http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...1520537&page=2
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Would the wind be any stronger than at ground level? The structure would be built over railways, so it doesn't seem like it would go between tall buildings. I recall another proposed sky path would have had a clear plastic tube around it to block wind and rain, which made it resemble a hamster habi-trail.
    Yes I have worked on projects where we had to suspend work about a certain height due to wind speeds, but were able to continue working at ground level.

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  23. #23
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Wind could be a factor, as would icing. I'd skip the hydraulic lifts and just put in ramps, possibly with steps running down the middle. Then there is the whole worst case scenario of a train derailment- what happens if a train takes out a supporting pylon or three?
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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I wonder how much 6.5 kms. of motorway cost nowadays.
    It's absurd to even think about building new roads in central London. Totally out of the question. It will never happen in 1000 years.

    The money to purchase right of way does not exist in the economy, given that this is the most valuable real estate in the world. Whatever you try to tear down will be historical and/or essential to daily life and the economy. Even the most rabid car lover knows that there can never be new roads in London.

    in fact, according to the BBC article you linked to, there's almost no place in all of Britain where new roads can be considered. That is an excellent article. I strongly recommend it. Here is an excerpt:

    Quote Originally Posted by BBC.co.uk
    Indeed, road projects like the M74 extension and A3 tunnel may never be repeated. The M74 is a "relic" to a bygone age, says Prof Hall. Nowadays, most city councils subscribe to the view that urban motorways fracture communities rather than aid economic development.

    Expensive tunnels are also out of favour. A 540m tunnel putting the A303 at Stonehenge underground was scrapped in 2007 by the Department of Transport.


    Today the Highways Agency says it has no more major motorway or tunnel projects in the pipeline.


    The future is low cost tweaking known as "motorway management" - using electronic speed limit displays and the hard shoulder to vary traffic flow.


    Jimmy Savile may have been ahead of his time in the 1980s when he claimed: "This is the age of the train." For the major infrastructure projects of the coming decade look to be rail.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13924687


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    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    A46 in Nottinghamshire (dual two lane road in fairly flat open countryside) - 13.5million/km
    According to the published figures the elevated bikeway into London is much more expensive to build than a two lane country road - about 34 million /km. But that doesn't include the cost of the right of way. As Roody points out, they can't afford, either politically or economically, to bulldoze new routes into the city, and the only other way to add ground level bike lanes would be to reduce car or bus lanes or close train lines. Instead, the elevated bikeway is adding capacity to an existing right of way and thus you're getting your space for free. So the seemingly expensive elevated conduit turns out to be a cost effective way to stimulate the economy of the city, by giving more people ready access to it.
    Last edited by cooker; 01-07-14 at 03:45 PM.

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