These elevated bikeways are trendy solutions to fighting traffic

London, one of Europe’s most congested cities, is the latest urban jungle to propose an elevated bikeway to solve its road problems. Elevated bikeways have become a hot item for urban planners, mainly because they take up less space than bike lanes on roads. They also cause less confusion and fewer cyclist deaths.

Thames Deckway, London's newly proposed elevated bike lane
The proposed Deckway (Courtesy of River Cycleway Consortium)

The proposal for the Thames Deckway, out this week, would build an 8-km (nearly 5-mile) bikeway over the Thames River and cost £600 million ($972 million) to erect. (It’s one of many bikeways to have been proposed in the city, though few have been completed.) With four lanes, the Deckway would only allow commuter cyclists during morning and evening peak hours, Karen Lim, a spokesperson from the River Cycleway Consortium, told Quartz in an email. During the day, two lanes would be converted to pedestrian lanes while the other two would be kept for cyclists.

There is skepticism about the Deckway’s ability to decrease traffic; but some think using the Deckway could decrease travel time for cyclists by 30 minutes compared to using public roads.

Similar attempts at urban traffic-taming include the SkyCycle, a 220-km cycle deck with more than 200 entrance points. It’s being planned by London architecture firms Exterior Architecture and Foster + Partners, along with urban planning firm Space Syntax.

The proposed Skycycle in London.
The proposed SkyCycle in London. (Courtesy of Foster + Partners)
SkyCycle_View 3_inside view
SkyCycle would follow existing suburban rail services, according to its designers. (Courtesy of Exterior Architecture Ltd.)

It’s no wonder that Copenhagen managed to erect its elevated bikeway, Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake: More than 50% of the country’s population rides a bike to work or school each day. Compare that to, say, Los Angeles, where about 2% of the city uses a bike to get to work.

The 32 million krone ($5.74 million) structure is an add-on to 354 km of already-established cycle routes. It’s only 721 ft. long but it allows more separation between cyclists and pedestrians, who tend to move more slowly. The space underneath the ramp could be developed for recreational purposes.

Cycle Snake, Copenhagen elevated bikeway
The Cycle Snake burning orange at night. (Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST Studio)
Cycle Snake, Copenhagen elevated bikeway
Cycle Snake’s proposed recreation area under the bikeway. (Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST Studio)

Melbourne’s Veloway is another proposed bikeway. It would stretch 1.7 km between the Southern Cross railway station to Flinders Street Station and cost up to A$25 million (US$23 million).

melbourne-bike-way
Melbourne Veloway Consortium estimates its bikeway would take two years to build. (BicycleNetwork, YouTube)
Melbourne's Veloway project, elevated bike ramp
The bikeway would span over six busy intersections, according to the Melbourne Veloway Consortium. (BicycleNetwork, YouTube)

Velo-City in Toronto, a proposed elevated bike lane proposed by architect Chris Hardwicke, would feature tube-like bikeways to protect cyclers and shield them from bad weather (but the plan has languished since 2006).

Architect Chris Hardwicke proposed Toronto build an elevated/tubed bikeway
Velo-City pitches itself as a “high-speed, all-season, pollution-free, ultra-quiet” mode of transport. (Chris Hardwicke)
Architect Chris Hardwicke proposed Toronto build an elevated/tubed bikeway
What VeloCity would look like at dusk. (Chris Hardwicke)
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