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In a not-so-distant future, London’s sky could be filled with bicycles

A bold new transportation plan proposes a network of 10 car-free bike path routes that would span approximately 137 miles and be installed above London’s current suburban rail network.

The project, known as SkyCycle, was revealed this week and intends to be a privately funded “users-pay alternative to riding on the roads.”

The Guardian reports each route would accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour and improve journey times by up to 29 minutes.

The plan was developed by Sir Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, who is a self-described cycling enthusiast. He previously designed the famous Gherkin building and Wembley Stadium.

“I believe that cities where you can walk or cycle, rather than drive, are more congenial places in which to live,” he wrote in SkyCycle’s press release. “To improve the quality of life for all in London and to encourage a new generation of cyclists, we have to make it safe.”

Local government agency Transport for London estimates that there are over 500,000 cycle journeys made every day in London. By 2020 they estimate this to be 1.5 million cycle journeys per day.

The plans come at a time of intense public scrutiny of the danger of cycling in London. After a spate of cycling-related deaths in late 2013 that resulted in little legal action against the drivers, cycling advocates staged a massive public “die-in” outside Transport for London headquarters in November. They demanded that 10 percent of each London borough’s transport budget be spent on developing and improving infrastructure for cyclists.

The SkyCycle project won’t be cheap. Developers say that just a four-mile trial section of the track could cost up to £220 million. SkyCycle developers argue that early studies of the system show, “it provides capacity at a much lower cost than building new roads and tunnels.”

H/T Allison McCartney