Of all the infrastructure ideas that cities ever consider, cycle paths are possibly the least exciting. On the surface, they can seem like glorified roads, and it’s hard to visualize how plowing taxpayer money into painted lines makes any sense. But London’s quiet transformation into a cycling city, complete with a sprawling network of well-defined paths, have pushed the population to pedal. A map by transport planner Dermot Hanney, made in the style of the London Underground, shows just how this system has come together.
The Cycle Superhighways rest at the heart of London’s transformation. Announced in 2008 by former mayor Ken Livingstone, the plan pledged £400 million ($502.2 million) to build 12 continuous routes across the city that would encourage more people to depend on cycling to get around. Although only seven of them have been completed at the time of writing, they’ve formed the basis of cycle infrastructure planning ever since. Route number two, for example, received a £25 million ($31.4 million) upgrade that separated the paths from the roads with concrete curbs.
Here is the system as it stands below, with the superhighways in blue:
You’ll also notice a couple of purple lines. These Quietways are targeted at cyclists who don’t want to go through the center, who prefer a calmer trip away from the hustle and bustle. Like Cycle Superhighways, Quietways are well-defined and feature regular signposts explaining where the cyclist is along the route. On the superhighway routes, these signposts echo the simplicity of the tube maps, in a similar style to Hanney’s map:
Much like New York and other cities, London also has a bike rental scheme. More than 10.3 million journeys were made on the bikes last year, and each rental station has a map detailing the best cycle routes from that location.
All this means that more people are cycling around the city than ever before. Customer research conducted in 2013 found that 49 percent of bike rental users said the scheme encouraged them to take up cycling. Overall, 23 million cycle journeys were made in 2014, the highest ever recorded, and 432 cyclists were seriously killed or injured, the lowest number ever recorded.
In just under a decade, London successfully transformed itself into a cycling city, thanks to a strong network of hidden infrastructure that reduced accidents and encouraged cyclists.