Photo by Romazur, CC BY-SA.
Radical ideas have been proposed over the years – to varied reception. In 1967, architect-planner Brian Waters - backed by the Conservative party - proposed replacing London’s buses with a monorail network in order to increase road space for motorists - but the plans vanished within a couple of years. Designs for a North Greenwich cable car at the turn of the millennium fell through due to fears over user numbers, only to be revived - and built - in 2012 by mayor Boris Johnson. As predicted, the number of people using the transport link is low, and figures suggest almost no one uses it for a daily commute.
Architecture firms have recently put forward novel ideas for the capital. Foster + Partners proposed “SkyCycle”, a 220km network of bike lanes constructed above overground railway lines, accommodating up to 12,000 riders per hour. NBBJ imagined transforming the Circle Line into a continuous giant moving walkway travelling at 15mph. Gensler’s “London Underline” involves turning abandoned tube tunnels into subterranean bike pathways. The CarTube, dreamt up by PLP, proposes a network of tunnels beneath the streets for automated cars.
Some of these have been supported - Network Rail and Transport for London backed SkyCycle - but others have been dismissed as unrealistic gimmicks. How, for instance, would we find the space under London to build an entirely new network of car tunnels?