In London, a proposal to transform disused Underground tunnels into a network of bike paths is being met with mixed reviews. The "London Underline," dreamed up by Gensler, won Best Conceptual Project at the London Planning Awards, where it was lauded for making good use of "an untapped surplus of disused space."
The Underline is being promoted as a means of addressing the problems of congested commuter paths and disused infrastructure. To make it more financially viable, it would also feature kinetic paving stones that harness the energy of footsteps and bike tire friction.
But not everyone likes the idea.
Rosie Downes, campaigns manager at London Cycling Campaign, told the BBC: "Ideas to put cycles in the sky, or underground, rear their head every so often. They are completely counter to the principle that cycling should be made an attractive and convenient option, and perpetuate the incorrect notion that there isn't enough space above ground to provide Dutch-style solutions."
London's transportation department doesn't appear to back the idea either. A Transport for London (TfL) spokeswoman said: "We welcome all ideas to support the mayor's vision to get more Londoners cycling. However, there are no disused tunnels of significant length that are not part of our operational railway."
While you can easily call the project's viability into question, it's a pretty imaginative concept. As Gensler co-director Ian Mulcahey told the Evening Standard: “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.”
What do you think? Hare-brained scheme or visionary transportation solution? Let us know in the comments.