What Would it be Like to Cycle in London's Train Tunnels??


biking in london

This morning on The Guardian I read about a proposed project in London to transform the city’s disused train tunnels into cycle highways accessible via metro. Bike rental stations would sit at the beginning of each cycling stretch. Above, Rendering via Gensler.

Called the “London Underline,” the project was created in the hopes of not only getting people to be more active and recycling unused space, but also curbing London’s above-ground traffic congestion. In theory this may work, but as The Guardian notes it may not be practical.

Says writer Feargus O’Sullivan, “Personally, if I were trying to find a congestion-free way to reach the South Bank from Bloomsbury, I wouldn’t rent a Boris bike at platform level in Holborn station, cycle it five-odd minutes down a tunnel, dock it again and take a lift up to ground level, then rent another Boris bike only to be forced to wheel it across a bridge.”

biking in london

Proposed underground cycleway map

Moreover, Treehugger Lloyd Alter writes the London Underline may not actually be in a cyclist’s best interests, as the tunnels will take them away from the beauty, history and culture of the city. He notes, “London streets are crowded, no question. Sometimes it’s cold and rainy and dark. But you want people and bikes on the surface where the action is. Because streets are for people.”

Despite winning “best concept” at the London Planning Awards last week, the project is facing a lot of controversy. I have to agree my favorite part about being a cyclist myself is getting to feel the beat of a city when I’m riding. Being pushed underground would take that away. That being said, it could be a fun way to see London from two different perspectives, although I think after doing this one time it might get old.

I’m all about recycling spaces, and if they can truly make this an extensive network underneath London — something that’s still not 100% definite — I could possibly see the merits, especially in terms of speed. I also think if they can give the tunnels some creative flare with street (subway) art, exhibits and maybe some curated artisan sellers and local performers depending on space, it could be an attraction in itself.


Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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