Skyway Blues

Dear oh dear. Apparently (and that is the key word here) Boris Johnson has described a proposal to build elevated cycling ‘skyways’ across the city as ‘very interesting’.

Let’s be blunt about it – it’s not the solution to London’s cycling problems. Although there’s nothing wrong with making walking or cycling routes out of old elevated railways (as New York has done), or even creating occasional elevated sections of cycle routes where there are no other alternatives (i.e. new cycle bridges), the estimate for building a whole network of cycling skyways (size not specified, but surely tiny) is ‘tens of millions of pounds’ and cyclists would be charged £1 to use the routes, which you could exit only at specific disembarkation points.

The real story here is the appalling state of our modern media and social discourse. The Daily Mail’s article about the skyways plays straight into the hands of people who simply cannot think properly. Maybe they spend hours watching TV or playing on an Xbox or surfing the web or drinking wine every evening. Whatever the reason, glib people who can’t think properly will probably think cycling skyways are a radical and creative way to solve the alleged problem of London’s streets being too dangerous for cycling.

Meanwhile, a genuinely brilliant idea like Simon Parker’s London Cycle Map waits in the wings, ignored because it requires slightly more than a momentary act of concentration to understand in principle.

Of course, in practice Simon Parker’s map would be wonderfully simple to use. But in order to get it implemented we need a culture that can see slightly further than a silly Daily Mail article.

An artists impression for SkyCycle, a proposed scheme that could see a raised cycle network above the streets of London

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