Reinventing London’s Old Tube Tunnels: Cyclists Set to Pedal Underground to Get Around

London is now the fastest growing city in the world.

At present the city that harbors an endless list of cultures from around the world has a population of 8.3 million people. The city only continues to expand rapidly as there are nearly 2,000 people moving into the metropolis per week. The city anticipates that its population will be well over 12 million by 2027.

With a skyrocketing population, London continues to face a major battle in dealing with congestion on its roads and even sidewalks. Getting around the city by car, bike and foot is a battle in its own right: space is limited and time is of the essence.

Gensler Photo, 2015: The London Underline Project will help ease the congestion problem.Gensler Photo, 2015: The London Underline Project will help ease the congestion problem.

With this, transport infrastructure is under extreme pressure from the locals and scores of international visitors alike. 

However, Gensler, a well-known design firm that is innovative and forward thinking in every sense, says the solution in dealing with the congestion is right underneath 'Londoners' feet.

Gensler is referring to city’s old abandoned tube tunnels. That’s right, the design firm is proposing to reinvent the old tunnels and turn them into a unique network of paved paths where cyclists and pedestrians can get around much more easily.

Gensler Photo, 2015: The London Underline Project, the route would run below London’s central line from east Holborn to Green Park. Gensler is also eyeing other disused lines form Piccadilly.Gensler Photo, 2015: The London Underline Project, the route would run below London’s central line from east Holborn to Green Park. Gensler is also eyeing other disused lines form Piccadilly.

Called the London Underline Project, the route would run below London’s central line from east Holborn to Green Park. Throughout the route there would be a large variety of docking stations with bikes. The London Underline, ambitious on every level, would also connect with cycling lanes above ground including bridges crossing the Thames that also have cycling and pedestrian lanes. Even old reservoir chambers will also be utilized in the plan. Gensler is also eyeing other disused lines from Piccadilly.

“'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,” says Ian Mulcahey, co-director of Gensler.

He adds, “The adaptation of surplus and underutilized tube and rail tunnels could provide a quick and simple addition to our infrastructure network.”

While the idea for creating an underground world for cyclists and pedestrians is getting lots of positive reception, still there are a handful of doubters who scoff that the idea as they say it would cost way too much money to get the disused tube lines operational for foot and bike traffic.

Gensler however contends that money is nothing to worry about. The firm says that the source of power for the underground network would come from kinetic energy from footsteps. This would help reduce costs for operations as would shops, restaurants and small-like-malls checkered throughout the new London Underline – all of which would continually generate revenue.

“Gensler's proposal brings back an ignored part of the city through the collective efforts of its citizens. By harnessing the kinetic energy of every one's footsteps, a whole new urban space is unlocked underneath the city,” says renowned architect Trevor To.

“This self-sustaining approach to urban infrastructure is key to a carbon-neutral community, and London could lead the world once again in merging tradition with innovation to create a better future,” he adds.

Gensler’s London Underline Project won the best Conceptual Project at the London Planning Awards which was held this last Wednesday night (February 4, 2015).

It is highly anticipated that work will soon begin on the project and the old tube tunnels will come alive for cyclists and pedestrians in a few years.