Square Mile: Skyscraper rules tightened over 'wall of wind' fears for cyclists
20 August 2019, 10:18 | Updated: 20 August 2019, 11:53
Stricter rules on the construction of new skyscrapers in London are being drawn up over concerns that a so-called "wall of wind" effect could knock over cyclists and pedestrians.
The new guidelines take into account the impact of wind when planning applications for tall buildings are assessed.
Developers will have to provide comprehensive assessments on how proposed skyscrapers could affect people on the ground, including tests of roadways and pavements using wind tunnels and computer simulations.
In extreme cases, wind in an urban microclimate created by the presence of skyscrapers can destabilise or push cyclists into the path of vehicles.
Under the scheme, wind conditions classed as acceptable will be reduced, with speeds of more than 18mph reclassified as "uncomfortable" and requiring designers to change building plans.
It is the first time in the UK that the effects on cycling comfort and safety arising from wind microclimate have been considered, the City of London Corporation said.
The Square Mile has 13 tall buildings planned for construction by 2026, the corporation has said.
More robust guidelines could be focused on areas outside schools or elderly people's homes to ensure greater consideration is given to vulnerable groups.
Alastair Moss, chair of the planning and transportation committee, said: "With the number of tall buildings in the Square Mile growing, it is important that the knock-on effects of new developments on wind at street-level are properly considered."
The plans have been welcomed by Cycling UK. Policy director Roger Geffen said: "Anywhere there are tall buildings going up, there is increased risk of encountering walls of wind as you ride.
"It makes cycling more of a struggle, but can also increase the risk of cyclists being suddenly blown off course, making their movements more difficult to judge for other road users."
In May, City of London Corporation approved the introduction of a 15mph speed limit in the Square Mile to reduce the likelihood and severity of road collisions, although that measure must be signed off by the government before it can be implemented.