The answer to making London safer and less congested for cyclists could lie underground, according to a leading design firm.
Gensler has come up with an award-winning plan to convert disused London Underground routes into subterranean cycleways and pedestrian routes.
The scheme, dubbed the London Underline project, has now been recognised at the London Planning Awards where it was named Best Conceptual Project.
Its designers say it would transform tunnels beneath the capital into vibrant subterranean streets, with shopping facilities, cafes and pedestrian paths running parallel with cycle routes.
The tunnels would be accessed via Tube stations and would be surfaced by kinetic paving at stations, which would use use footfall to generate energy, according to Gensler.
The designers say this would remove the need for the tunnels to be linked directly to ground level.
Ian Mulcahey, co-director of designers Gensler London, said:
“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.”
Key routes covered by the tunnels would include the disused Piccadilly Line branch from Holborn to the abandoned Aldwych station.
It would also link Green Park and Charing Cross along what was previously a Jubilee Line tunnel.
If the scheme were successful it could also make use of empty stretches of tunnel at Stockwell in south London and Goodge Street in central London.
The designers added:
“With current pressures on London to cope with future transport capacity for pedestrians, cyclists and tube users, London is in desperate need for new types of public and community space, as well as affordable retail, commerce and entertainment spaces. Subterranean spaces present an excellent option for new uses.”