London to build cycling paths in tube tunnels

An ambitious project will transform London’s disused tunnels into cycling and pedestrian paths with shops, cultural spaces and floors that generate their own energy.

London’s dormant tube tunnels will be transformed into cycling and pedestrian paths, retail and cultural spaces. This is what the London Underline project, which was given the 2015 London Planning Award, envisages.


london underline
In the tunnels there will be cycling lanes as well as shops, bars, restaurants and cultural spaces © Gensler


The London Underline is a project realised by a team of architects at Gensler aimed at reusing and redeveloping existing tube tunnels in order to connect some of the neighbourhoods of the UK’s capital. The architects planned to turn disused tunnels and stations into areas where to take a break as well as ride a bike.

The current project will connect two pairs of tunnels extending 2.4 kilometres from Holborn to Green Park. The former runs from Green Park to Aldwych, the latter from Aldwich to Holborn. This stretch, which connected the two stations, was abandoned in the ‘80s, while the tunnel that runs from Holborn to Green Park was part of the Jubilee Line, abandoned in the ‘90s.


tunnel london underline
The two pairs of tunnels are shown in the map © Gensler


But that’s not all. London’s underground paths will also be eco-friendly. In fact, the idea was to generate renewable energy thanks to the people who will pass through the tunnel: the Pavegen start-up company will pave the tunnels with panels that harness the kinetic energy of pedestrian footfall to generate energy, an excellent way to lit up the galleries.


London is a cosmopolitan megalopolis of more than 1,500 square kilometres and with 8 and a half million inhabitants. Such a big city must know how to manage important issues including urbanization and mobility.
As regards bike infrastructures, conservative mayor Boris Johnson welcomed other important projects such as the superhighways and CycleSky, an elevated network of bike routes to let cyclists avoid car traffic. And now there’s someone who thought of building the future of cycling lanes underground.

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