This article is written by Peter Murray, who is chairman of the influential New London Architecture forum and of the executive committee of the London Society, a friend of this website. He has recently become one of the London Mayor’s Good Growth Design Advocates. He is also a dedicated cyclist.
The Mayor’s Draft Transport Strategy (MTS) makes much of the forthcoming benefits of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) and of Crossrail 2 for delivering economic growth in the capital, as well as new housing. Crossrail 2, for instance, is expected to support some 200,000 new jobs and unlock the development of the same number of new homes. But tucked away at the back of the MTS – and not even included in the executive summary, which is what most people will read – is a page entitled “Creating high-density, mixed use places”, which holds the potential to permit cycling infrastructure to support Sadiq Khan’s desire to deliver”‘good growth” for London, at a smaller scale than the Crossrail projects, but nevertheless important.
I have been interested in the development potential of cycling since I rode across the United States a few years ago, looking at how new biking infrastructure was changing American cities. On the outskirts of Minneapolis, my guide from the Department of Transportation pointed out a number of new intermediate housing developments located next to the Greenway, an old railway line transformed into a cycle track that takes riders safely and quickly into the heart of the city. It meant that younger people were able to access affordable homes through cycling.
On another cycle trip, this time to Copenhagen, I ended up at 8 House in Oresund, a ten storey block designed by BIG architects with a spiral ramp that allows residents to cycle right up to their front doors. Sitting right on the edge of the city limits, it provided easy “active travel” links into the centre.
I’ve also noticed changing habits at home. I live in West London near Turnham Green Tube station. Every time the local council (Hounslow) provides more cycle parking round the station it is immediately filled up with bikes ridden largely by local people who live a bit too far away from the station to walk to it and find cycling much more direct and convenient than using the bus. (Local parking restrictions now make the journey impossible by car).