London Cycle Orbital, London, United Kingdom
AR Urbanism

This proposal for a continuous cycle route ¬encircling central London and connecting disparate places by joining up existing neighbourhoods, parks and green spaces, as well as existing cycle routes, into a continuous ‘cycling street’. This new route expresses a strategic vision of London as a healthy capital, delivering local and city-wide connectivity as well as driving economic and social regeneration. The initiative can help to rebalance the radial structure of London, reaching across multiple boroughs and diverse communities, improving the accessibility and distribution of London’s public realm. 
 
The Outer Loop in the north largely follows streets close to the Regent’s Canal, returning the towpath to pedestrian use only during the daytime; it links Victoria and Regent’s Parks via Hackney and Kings Cross, then loops south through Paddington, Hyde Park and Victoria to cross the Thames on a new pedestrian/cycle bridge proposed at Pimlico/Nine Elms. South of the river it links places and parks including the Oval, Kennington and Burgess Parks and the Old Kent Rd growth area, through Southwark Park and Canada Water, along the Thames to the second proposed new pedestrian/cycle bridge at Rotherhithe, north through Mile End and Victoria Parks.
 
The Inner Loop joins Limehouse Basin in the east to Hyde Park via Thameside route, then crossing Tower Bridge to join the proposed ‘Low Line’ route alongside London Bridge Station, past Waterloo and across Westminster Bridge to the Royal Parks. 
 
The idea arose from a group of architects, urban designers and transport planners discussing frequently mentioned cycling issues in London including the disconnected, radial nature of the new cycle superhighways (where is the ‘circle line’?) and the lack of leisure cycling in London. Also noted were the pedestrian/cycle conflicts along popular but restricted routes like the canal towpath and the problems with inclusivity in urban cycling, where there are clear impediments to cycling take-up among groups including, women in general, older people (especially women), children and ethnic groups.
 
Could an expanded and better connected network encourage more inclusive cycle use and improve Londoners’ health and well-being? Was there potential for development intensification and new public realm along popular and new cycle routes? 
 
Studying the available data around cycling growth in London, as well as comparator city experiences where there has been recent and rapid growth in cycle use (eg: Vancouver, Seattle, Auckland), it is clear that access to safe routes with good wayfinding and the creation of attractive leisure routes (along waterfronts and through parks) have proved central to greater inclusivity within urban cycling. 
 
The key challenges to the project were to find legible routes that could improve cycle and pedestrian access with minimum conflict with vehicles; to minimise crossings with major traffic routes; to travel alongside canals not on the towpath; through and alongside parks without displacing pedestrian routes. The southern section of the Outer Loop also relies on the two new pedestrian/cycle crossings of the Thames which would integrate the Outer Orbital, however the Inner Loop could be an initial phase.
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