9 Controversial Cycling Projects Gearing Up Across the UK

By Spencer Hart on at

This month has seen cycling was big news in London, from the 'Crossrail for bikes' being given the go-ahead to a design firm wowing us with its innovative underground commuter track. But a futuristic cycling utopia is not a dream exclusive to the capital – it is one shared by town planners the nation over.

So let's take a look at projects from across the UK to see what impressive, outlandish, sometimes controversial cycling infrastructure projects our country's helmet-wearing pedalists may be careering down in the coming years.

1.) The London Underline

Last week the 'London Underline' – a proposed network of underground cycle paths – won the Best Conceptual Project at the London Planning Awards. It's been designed by the firm Gensler, and the project would see unused tube tunnels between Holborn and Aldwych Station turned into designated paths for cyclists.

The paths could be sponsored, and lined with restaurants, shops and click-and-collect points to monetise the project. It could also use 'kinetic paving', which turns footfall into electricity. Yet despite these good money-making ideas, it's fair to say the proposal has been divisive on whether it will actually alleviate congestion. [Image Credit: Gensler]

2.) Dutch-Style Segregated Cycle Lanes in Bristol

In February 2014, Bristol council announced plans to create a £380,000 segregated cycle lane along the River Avon. The design would see the road narrowed, parking bays removed and a three-metre-wide footpath with an integrated cycle lane constructed. The 700-metre-long track will be part of the new 'promenade' scheme, which will link Bristol with Keynsham.

The project was due to be completed in the summer of 2014, but some unexpected high-tides and an unstable river wall meant the project has been postponed until it can be fixed. This is part of a wider scheme that plans to double cycling in Bristol by 2020. [Image Credit: Bristol City Council]

3.) Manchester Oxford Road

Another 'Dutch-style' cycle lane shown here, this time on the busy Oxford Road in Manchester. The proposed plan would ban cars from the tarmac between 06:00 and 21:00, thus making way for buses, bikes, taxis and emergency vehicles.

The plan has proved popular with the Mancunian public: of 2,000 comments from 900 respondents during the consultation process, 65 per cent were in favour of the scheme. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) chairman Andrew Fender said it would "revolutionise sustainable travel", but he would say that, wouldn't he?

4.) Floating Track on the River Thames

OK, so this one's a bit 'out there', but it presents more benefits than Lumley's ridiculous Garden Bridge that has been widely lampooned here on Giz UK. Nicknamed the 'Thames Deckway', it's a £600 million cycling path that floats on the capital's river.

The plan has been envisaged by The River Cycleway Consortium, which claims that the stretch from Battersea to Canary Wharf will be travelled in half and hour; at present it takes just under an hour to cycle between those two locations. Anyone wanting to use the route will have to pay a flat ticket price of £1.50 (until that inevitably creeps up over time as all transport ticket prices do). [Image Credit: Interesting Engineering]

5.) Dutch-Style Cycle Lanes in Cambridge

It's surprising that the UK's cycling city will only gain its first dutch-style cycle lanes in June 2015. The project will see two routes, one on Hills Road and another on Huntingdon Road, which combined, currently support 6,800 cycle trips per day.

The new routes will be mid-height between pavement and road, and feature bus-bypass lanes and cyclist-friendly zebra crossings. [Image Credit: Cycle.Travel]

6.) London 'Crossrail' of Cycle Lanes

It wasn't long ago that Boris Johnson gave the go-ahead to the ambitious 'Crossrail for bikes' – the cycle-highway that is central to Boris's £913 million 'cycle revolution'. The project will span London from east to west, linking Barking with Acton, and north to south between King's Cross and Elephant and Castle.

The route gained an 84 per cent approval rating, and it's claimed it will only create six-minute delay for vehicles – whether that figure stands up in practice is another matter. The central part of the route, running between Tower Hill and the A40 Westway flyover at Paddington, is due to be completed by April 2016. [Image Credit: TfL]

7.) Edinburgh George Street Made Suitable for 12-Year-Olds

In September last year Edinburgh council began trialling a segregated cycle lane on famed shopping promenade George Street. The path, which is separated from traffic using rubber 'armadillos', is designed to be safe enough for an unaccompanied 12-year-old to ride on.

The trail will run until September 2015, at which time councillors will decide how successful the scheme was and whether it could be rolled out further. [Image Credit: City of Edinburgh Council Flickr]

8.) Leicester to Double Cycling by 2018

In a bid to double cycling by 2018, Leicester's mayor, Peter Soulsby has been looking into the effects of blocking off main roads before any infrastructure goes in. The plans have had local drivers up in arms as preliminary works for the project grounded some parts of the city to a halt.

There are a number of proposed bike lanes in Leicester, linking southern suburbs Saffron, Eyres, Monsell and Aylestone to the city centre. Unusually bikes will also be permitted on the pedestrianised zone in the city centre, which is due for completion later this year. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

9.) Norman Foster's SkyCycle

Ah, the futuristic utopia of cycling: SkyCycle is an elevated track which runs above the Capital's rooftops and railway lines. The project, which has the backing of Network Rail and Transport for London, would see over 137 miles of track above the rail network.

SkyCycle is suspended on pylons above the tracks and can be accessed from over 200 entrance points along the journey. "The dream is that you could wake up in Paris and cycle to the Gare du Nord," says Sam Martin of Exterior Architecture. "Then get the train to Stratford, and cycle straight into central London in minutes, without worrying about trucks and buses." [Image Credit: Foster and Partners]