Cyclists colonize and revitalize disused industrial easements. It’s just one of the many magnanimous things that we do. Minneapolis’s cyclists turned abandoned tracks into an artery of life and commerce, which that city now calls its Midtown Greenway. New York’s cyclists turned the underside of the Henry Hudson Parkway from a place for Jets to fight Sharks, into a place to stop for a drink and watch sunsets, on your way home by bike. We’ve cleansed the city’s underbelly; now how about its bowels?
An architect named James Ramsey (of RAAD studio) thinks New York’s abandoned subway stations could have daylight pumped down using fiber optic cables, to make underground parks, starting with his proposed Delancey Underground project. But New York is riddled with disused subway lines, enough (some believe) to support a fabled population of Mole People.
Revitalizing no-go zones in our cities, depends on the kind of passive surveillance that bicycle commuters offer in spades. We’re as quick on the scene as a car, but insinuated in our surroundings, just like a pedestrian. Mr. Ramsey, make your underground park, part of a continuous network of parks, doubling as bike routes, and they’ll be welcoming places, long after the novelty fades. When the novelty fades from the High Line, they’ll be calling in cyclists to patrol that space as well. (Thanks Roberto, for that wonderful lead!)