London Underline Pedestrian And Bicycle Highway

The London Underline would take all the abandoned subway tunnels under the city (and there are lots of them, as we know from the movie V For Vendetta) and string them together into a pedestrian and bicycle highway. Think that’s a clever idea? How about if you use Pavegen tiles throughout the system to power all the lights and ventilators needed along the way?

 That’s the idea that won global design firm Gensler the Best Conceptual Project honor at the 2015 London Planning Awards. Imagine all those commuters happy and dry underground, far below the 24 hour a day gridlock that central London has become.

Add in some shops to cater to the walkers and bikers and you have what Gensler calls the “world’s first self-sustaining subterranean transport infrastructure.” It would also be the perfect opportunity for the city to implement a comprehensive bicycle sharing program.

Ian Mulcahey, co-director of Gensler London, says “Now that London has reached the highest level of population in its history we need to think creatively about how to maximize the potential of our infrastructure. The adaptation of surplus and underutilized tube and rail tunnels could provide a quick and simple addition to our infrastructure network.”

Gensler designer Trevor To explains, “Gensler’s proposal brings back an ignored part of the city through the collective efforts of its citizens. By harnessing the kinetic energy of every one’s footsteps, a whole new urban space is unlocked underneath the city. This self-sustaining approach to urban infrastructure is key to a carbon-neutral community, and London could lead the world once again in merging tradition with innovation to create a better future.”

Add in the proposed Bicycle Superhighway along the banks of the Thames River and you have one of the most ambitious plans to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles of any major city in the world. London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, told the BBC last year that; “Getting more people on to their bikes will reduce pressure on the road, bus and rail networks, cut pollution, and improve life for everyone, whether or not they cycle themselves.”

Gensler’s proposal makes so much sense, let’s hope that policial wrangling doesn’t keep it from happening.

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.