Bike shop Ribble Cycles has commissioned a cycle-infrastructure report from a panel of university lecturers, transport planning consultants and regional directors to transform two city centre areas into what's said to be a "vision of a safer, greener, cycle-friendly future."
However, most of the "futuristic" cycle infra suggested is elevated away from street level and desire lines. Such thinking is common among futurists (think deckways over the Thames, and Lord Rogers' style cycleways-in-the-sky) but rarely popular with people on bikes, who tend to want to visit shops and so forth at ground level. Elevated cycleways that work well – for instance, the "cycle snake" bridge in Copenhagen, and the Hovenring "floating" cycleway in Eindhoven – are usually in addition to existing dense networks of cycleways and mesh well with current networks.
Choosing Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, and Waterloo, London the Ribble Cycles report unveils "unique concept designs" revealing how these two areas could adapt their infrastructure in the near future to improve urban cycling.
As well as elevated cycleways, the Ribble Cycles report also suggests concepts such as solar roads, automated and underground bike storage.
The report envisons an elevated superhighway running across Waterloo Bridge, allowing cyclists "easy access" across the River Thames.
Another key feature of the designs is automated bike storage, aimed at reducing the amount of congestion associated with traditional storage methods in both London and Manchester. This particular addition was suggested by transport planning consultant Adrian Lord, who argued that storage systems should have "minimal human involvement", similar to those already in place in Tokyo. There's such a demo system already in London, as covered by BikeBiz last year.
Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of West England John Parkin said: "We need to create an environment that's pleasant and different; we need to be using touch and feel materials while encouraging public art to create an identity and culture."
The futuristic designs put this recommendation into action and foresee the dimly-lit walkways currently running through Piccadilly Gardens being transformed and stitched together by a series of elevated, two-way cycleways with illuminated pathways.
Ribble Cycles' marketing office Matthew Lawson said: “In our vision of the future we see cycling in city centres being made safer, easier and ultimately more appealing. These new concepts have taken into account any issues cyclists are currently facing in these popular areas and aim to improve their overall cycling experience on a daily basis
“Although some of the designs may look farfetched, the fact that a number of these features already exist throughout the world already helps to paint a more realistic picture of what could be.
“We hope these designs provide a thought-provoking glimpse into the future and will encourage more people to get on their bikes, creating a healthier future for people and the planet.”