I published the above image in 1996 with the comment that ‘At some point we may be able to have a network of plastic tubes, with blown air assisting cyclists in their direction of travel (Figure 7)’. The photograph was taken in Greenwich station and the ‘slot’ where the cycletube is shown has since been used to build an extension to the Docklands Light Railway (from Lewisham to Canary Wharf). I like the DLR but, still believing London needs an overhead cycletube system for green commuters, was delighted to hear a comparable veloway has been proposed in Canada (see illustrations below).
The user experience in a pneumatic cycletube would be sublime: quiet, beautiful, self-directed transport. There is an overland railway line from Greenwich to London Bridge. Bowling into the tube at Greenwich one could almost stop peddling and be carried along by air, gazing at the London panorama. Everyone would have a seat. Nobody would have to wait for a train. Journey times would be faster than by train because there would be no waiting and no stopping and no delay in exiting the station. One would glide from exit into the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities. relaxed, warm, dry and filled with the joy of life. There would of course be twin cycle tubes, with the bicycle flow and airflow in different directions.
Cycletubes could also help families negotiate difficult junctions and give them safe routes to school – though the tubes would obviously have to be integrated with the urban design.