Sky-Cycle-Ways, Elevated bike lanes

This is the outline for a proposal for a new kind of elevated cycle way. The sky cycle way is an elevated cycle network which reduces time for travel for cyclists. This network turns any city into a flat Amsterdam or Cambridge. I believe this is the lowest cost for installation for any personal rapid transit system. By expanding on the understanding of the design and construction of monorails and other elevated transportation methods.

An imaginary ride

In your mind you leave your house to ride to your office. You leave your house by bike, you cycle either on the road, the sidewalk or on a separate bike path or trail to your nearest 'station'.

The station is a simple affair, perhaps it includes some kind of smart card to help pay for the network and raise money for more skylanes or perhaps it is just sponsored by the city to reduce congestion for those who live much further out. Overhead a light network of steel lifts a tube high into the air. From the ground you are pulled up by a ski lift or escalator to the operating level of the skyway just above the level of the traffic.

Cycleway entrance.

A high capacity entrance with travelator to help get to the main route.

The skyway is a long cycle lane. It's naturally ventilated but enclosed, in the summer the roof shades you from the worst heat. In the winter the glass helps keep the warmth in. In the fall the glass keeps the winds from slowing you down. In the spring the roof keeps the rain off your back. The perfect cycle floor, always free of glass and debris, always as level as the best technology can make it means a fast pleasant ride in. You can ride slowly conserving energy on the way in, passed by more enthusiastic commuters who have a shower waiting at the far end. You normally coast most of the way to work, the legs of the skyway change height flattening out the changes in ground level. Your policy is to ride to work but on the way home the skyway becomes your gym.

Looking to your left, out of the window you see down to the street level. The skyway is deliberately designed to make it hard to look directly down, this helps nervous riders who might have problems being this high off the ground. The skyway it's self casts a thin shadow down the street below, on the street you see traffic idling at one red light after another. While the cars might be fast between junctions, you never have to wait at a junction and so quickly loose the car that passed you as you entered the network. Sometimes the windows are frosted on one side or another, this was part of the agreement not to 'peek' into the adjacent buildings.

skyways go directly over junctions eliminating traffic stops reducing door to door travel times to comparable levels for car journeys

Above you there is the lattice of the ceiling. There are lights at intervals which provide lighting at night. Between then are the security cameras which guide the security patrols who keep the cycle ways safe. So safe in fact that some parents are happy to bring their children to the nearest skyway station, and leave them to cycle to the skyway station next to their children's school. Occasionally you see an east/west cycle lane which is a few meters/feet higher than the north south lane you are using. This vertical separation of lines means that you never have to stop at a junction within the cycle network. You have a green light from one end to another.

At intervals you pass the 'stations'. These stations are where people might enter or exit the raised systems. Sometime the stations lead directly into the first or second floor of a building, meaning you can travel 90% of you journey in the dry even in the worst weather the winter can muster. Some of the more central stations have more facilities such as secure parking and showers. These are used to help supplement the income of the skyway system and pay for it's maintenance and expansion. Between the stations there are occasional emergency exits. The whole skyway system is a white modular steel construction. If one section is damaged it might be lifted out of place one night and replaced with another section. At intervals there are 'splitters' which indicate the potential for future expansion. Some times when building work is happening the whole local network is rebuilt changing routes around the blockage. The skyway network is flat, so deviations from the shortest route are not really an inconvenience.

If this was a cycle way, it would have the same load capacity of 8-10 lane freeway!

The skyway system is laid out like a system of rail routes. It's time for you to change from the north south blue route to the east west green route. This involves a change of levels which is facilitated by a flattened escalator which lifts cyclists between levels. Even when the escalator is not working the system keeps working - you just have to cycle up the slope.

You drift almost silently though the urban landscape which has appeared around the skyway as you get closer to town. Your station appears, the cycle way is pretty crowed now so you check behind before pulling off on to the exit ramp. The exit ramp leads down and a n incline, unlike the hard floor all over the skyways this is made of soft rubber. The design is such that you can free wheel down the ramp but your speed at the bottom is not that great. This helps prevent collisions with both traffic and pedestrians at the bottom. It's almost a shock to appear on the ground with the noise and grime of the city. If this was a rail system you would now have a long walk to your office. As you are on your bike you can use it to reach your destination quickly and more importantly your not late for your early morning meeting.

When the skylanes first appeared, your choice at the exit from stations was the road, or to walk on the sidewalk. As the number of cyclists started to increase a sporadic network of surface cycle lanes emerged over the years. The local shops also joined in this change by installing bike racks outside there shops to induce passing trade to stop. Much of your journey from the station to your office is now on dedicated green lanes. The number of cyclists is now so large that drivers are aware of and sensitive to them on the streets. This help keeps the number of accidents on the streets to the same number as those between vehicles and pedestrians. As you go down the street you hardly notice the thin skyway over head. The skyways come in a number of modular sizes, narrower streets support one way single lane skyways, larger streets support larger two way units. Unlike the Chicago loop the street remains relatively open, the cycle way introduces practically no noise (unlike most overhead rail and monorail designs ), the cycle path also does not transmit 'shudder' though the foundations.

An entrance could be a compact lift smaller than this!

The skyway network is far more reliable than the congested traffic including the bus network. Your at work on time, now you don't have to find a parking place for your car anymore you've managed to leave home later and arrive at work earlier. The office converted a parking space to a sheltered cycle rack. You lock up your bike and go to work.

 

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