Biking the Tube

Every city in the world seems to be jealous of New York’s marvelous High Line, an ancient abandoned elevated rail line that has been converted into a park.

New Yorkers love it, visitors love it and by making walking extraordinarily pleasant, it dramatically reduces the carbon footprint in the city. Now cities everywhere are looking at their abandoned transportation lines to see how they can be reused.

In London, a new award-winning proposal from design firm Gensler seems like a remarkable solution to the fact that the city is growing by 3,000 people a week and will reach a population of 10 million in 15 years — about 25% more people than it had in 2013. As anyone who has been to London recently can testify, there isn’t room for a single extra automobile or cab on its streets even though the city charges a heavy toll if you enter it on a weekday in an automobile.

Gensler’s vision of the London Underline has room for pedestrians and cyclists.

Londoners love their bicycles, and the city has a great bike share program, which is helping. The trouble is that riding a bike in London isn’t exactly safe, and it rains a lot. So now comes that award-winning proposal: Why not open up some of the city’s unused subway tubes and turn them into attractive, well-lighted bicycle and pedestrian pathways? To make the project self-sustaining, the tunnels would be paved with high-tech flooring that creates electricity when you walk on it. Space can also be leased to shops and cafes.

Millions of people might use the system because it would get them where they are going faster than a taxi, keep them dry, entertain them with art displays and save a bundle — London taxis are expensive — while preserving the environment. It’s the High Line Underground.

To a bright future,

Stephen Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

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