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Cycling As Development-Enabler

This article featured originally within New London Architecture - http://www.newlondonquarterly.com/

SYSTRA's Giulio Ferrini says that cycle-centric development has a big part to play in London's future

Wake up, grab a coffee, squeeze onto the train, get in the lift, sit at your desk. Planning policy has made this the daily routine for most Londoners, by concentrating homes and offices in areas of high PTALs (Public Transport Accessibility Levels). While this has resulted in a shift from driving to public transport, both the increasing levels of physical inactivity and the need to continuously invest in capital­ intensive rail infrastructure have raised questions about the sustainability of this development model.

For this reason, the last 10 years have seen a significant investment in active travel in London, with improved public realm, cycle hire schemes and superhighways creating healthier streets. The current London Plan has set ambitious cycle parking requirements for all land uses, preparing the city for a mass-cycling future. While the quantum of cycle parking may appear overly onerous to some, there is increasing evidence that high-quality cycle facilities (showers, lockers, parking, workshops) attract higher-profile commercial tenants and increase market value. Similarly, there is evidence that segregated cycle infrastructure has a positive impact on both residential and commercial property values in the surrounding area.

In the Strategic Cycling Analysis, TfL has introduced the Cycling PTAL, which identifies areas from which residents could cycle rather than walk to stations. This new consideration of cycling as a development enabler could be a potential game-changer for the housing market, particularly if applied to areas with poor public transport connectivity, but within cycling distance of employment centres (Stoke Newington, Haggerston, Peckham, and Camberwell).

Cycling levels are growing exponentially and, in areas with these characteristics, cycling is establishing itself as a major mode of transport, particularly where accompanied by high-quality cycle infrastructure. CEOs with £10,000 bikes, hipsters with fixies as fifth limbs and Fitbit-wearing gym-goers are forming a diverse and growing group of Londoners who want to live in places that make cycling to work as easy as possible.

Imagine a development where each flat has safe, high-quality designer cycle parking either in safe dedicated rooms or integrated in the walls, ceilings or furniture. In the communal areas, you can find a repair station with regular maintenance workshops, bike cleaning facilities and shared cargo-bikes for grocery shopping. Lifts are replaced with gentle spiralling ramps, allowing residents on all floors to cycle in and out of their front doors. This development is just a stone's throw away from a segregated cycle lane that takes you to work and your children to school, without mixing with general traffic.

Londoners use public transport because it is practical and convenient. Cycle-centric development makes cycling the obvious choice for the majority, potentially increasing density while alleviating pressure on public transport infrastructure and reducing healthcare costs through increased physical activity.

Wake up, hop on your bike, welcome to the future.

Property, cycle - the new city