Red ribbon cycleway ‘conceptual but realistic’
In a design drawn up originally for the High Line for London competition, Nelson, a landscape director at Design International, proposes introducing an elevated cycleway along the stretch from Angel to Victoria Park.
The new cycleway would extend high above the waters of the canal, ‘freeing up the narrow towpath for the enjoyment of pedestrians and joggers, while conserving the tranquillity of the waterway’. The proposed route would also feature ‘cultural hubs’ at the canalside and introduce marginal planting along the canal and floating vegetated islands, ‘to form a thriving green corridor, simultaneously attracting wildlife and cleansing the water’.
‘The idea was born out of my personal experience in using the Regent’s Canal near where I live in Broadway Market both as a pedestrian and a cyclist,’ Nelson explains. ‘There is an obvious issue with congestion and compatibility between cyclists, runners, wheelchair users and pedestrians. I have to say on the whole I find it is the cyclists at fault for cycling fast and aggressively.’
Nelson describes his idea of separating the cyclists from the towpath as an aspirational solution: ‘While it is functional, it is deliberately striking and would weave down the canal like a red ribbon.’
He admits that the concept, which failed to make it to the High Line shortlist, has attracted criticism, not least from the Canal & River Trust which, according to the London Evening Standard, described it as ‘unworkable’ and ‘just plain potty’.
The idea is conceptual but realistic, Nelson argues, ‘and our next step is to gauge the public’s opinion through a public consultation along the canal. Once we have gathered all our information and refined the idea we will approach the Mayor’s office and TFL as a viable, quick and sustainable transport idea’.
He says he welcomes his proposal’s wider press attention, which was prompted by an article in a local newspaper, ‘as this idea is exactly the sort of thing us landscape architects should be proposing and not leaving to architects, as seems to be usual.’
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