SkyCycle, Proposals To Create Car-Free
Cycle Routes Throughout London


Exterior Architecture, Foster + Partners and Space Syntax – a team who share Lord Foster’s passion for the benefits of cycling – have jointly developed SkyCycle, a new approach to transform cycling in the capital.

The proposed SkyCycle network follows existing suburban rail services and provides over 220 kilometres of safe, car-free cycle routes, which can be accessed at over 200 entrance points. Almost six million people live within the catchment area of the proposed network, half of whom live and work within 10 minutes of an entrance. Each route can accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and will improve journey times by up to 29 minutes.

The Mayor’s aim is for London to be the best major city in the world. However, the capital’s transport network is at capacity and faces the challenge of population growth of 12 percent over the next decade. The government has committed to investment in transport, through airport planning, high-speed rail, Thameslink and Crossrail. The Mayor’s transport strategy also seeks to address the needs of pedestrians and cyclists in the city’s crowded streets.

As London’s railway lines were originally built for steam trains, they follow contours that naturally reduce the amount of energy expended and avoid steep gradients. SkyCycle exploits this historic legacy.

Associated benefits include the regeneration of the typically low value, often under-utilised industrial sites next to railway lines; vertically layering the city to create new social spaces and amenities on these cycling high streets; and the integration of automated goods delivery networks.

The project has already been presented to the GLA, TfL and Network Rail, as well as to developers and contractors with specialist rail experience. A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We welcome the proposals which have been put forward by Foster + Partners and Exterior Architecture and are always happy to look at ways we can contribute to improving travel and transport in London. We will continue to liaise with all involved as the aspiration for this innovative scheme develops.”

Over the last decade, cycling has grown by 70 percent and road safety is a key factor. Just 2 percent of daily journeys are made by bike, yet cycling accounts for 20 percent of deaths and serious casualties on the roads. The proposals examine how London could be turned into a safer, more compact city for cyclists by easing capacity constraints on London’s public transport systems and promoting healthy, environmentally friendly transport choices.

Find out more about the project here.