Kevin TedX photo.jpg

Welcome - my name is Kevin Klinkenberg, and this site "The Messy City" is my blog and company website. I started blogging on urban planning and design issues in 2007, and began working in the field in 1993. Please feel free to connect with me on any of the social media sites listed here. Thanks for reading.

Bad idea of the year nominee

Image by Foster and Partners

Image by Foster and Partners

From the "some bad ideas never die" department came this proposal from architect Norman Foster last month. Oliver Wainwright writes about it in the Guardian:

Unveiled this week, in an appropriately light-headed vision for the holiday season, SkyCycle proposes a network of elevated bike paths hoisted aloft above railway lines, allowing you to zip through town blissfully liberated from the roads.

The project, which has the backing of Network Rail and Transport for London, would see over 220km of car-free routes installed above London's suburban rail network, suspended on pylons above the tracks and accessed at over 200 entrance points. At up to 15 metres wide, each of the ten routes would accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and improve journey times by up to 29 minutes, according to the designers.

Lord Foster, who says that cycling is one of his great passions, describes the plan as “a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city.”

“By using the corridors above the suburban railways,” he said, “we could create a world-class network of safe, car-free cycle routes that are ideally located for commuters.”

To which I can only say: sigh. It's amazing how the worst ideas from 20th century urban design just don't seem to die, and how often it's architects that won't let them go. In essence, this is no different from the seductive drawings of architect Le Corbusier or the Futurama World's Fair exhibit that famously ushered in the car age. I simply can't make enough negative comments on the idea. Fortunately, this will die a quick death due to its incredible lack of financial feasibility. But it really is a shame that architects keep pumping this garbage out - the idea that getting around town somehow is a separate activity from actually experiencing a town (or city) and that what we really need more than anything is to separate all the travel modes out, like some sort of 1940's industrial operation. The machine age simply can't end soon enough.

If you got value from this post, please consider the following:

  1. Sign up for my email list
  2. Like The Messy City Facebook Page
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Invite or refer me to come speak
  5. Check out my urban design services page
  6. Tell a friend or colleague about this site

Why I do this

Los Angeles gets proactive with biking