As the CityLab writer says, both “hilarious and insulting“…
The odds were tough, but we did it: London has just come up with what must be the silliest cycling infrastructure idea in the world. Put together by a motley group called the River Cycleway Consortium, London is fielding a new proposal for a new central cycle path that will stretch eight miles and cost £600 million ($965 million) to construct. Quite a lot for a pair of bike lanes, isn’t it? Ah, but these are not ordinary paths. These babies would float. On the River Thames.
The answer to London’s cycling problems, the consortium argues, is a bobbing pontoon strung along the Southern side of London’s river. This aquatic cycleway would stretch from Battersea, just west of Central London, to the newish business district to its east at Canary Wharf, protected by what appear to be waist-high walls. Given the construction cost of over $65,000 per yard of path, using the cycleway wouldn’t be free. Cyclists would need to pay a £1.50 ($2.40) toll before entering.
The proposal isn’t just wrong. It’s a whole club sandwich of wrongness, made up of many delectable layers of stupid. For a start, there’s that cost. For that kind of money, London could create a whole network of properly protected cycle lanes on its streets; as things stand, the city already has some imperfect cycle routes covering the same stretch. It’s also arguable whether this project is needed. Certainly there’s still life in the aging saw that if you build it, they will come. Still, to build a path connecting two business centers to each other, rather than either of these centers to more heavily residential districts, is to ignore what many Londoners want to use their bikes for: commuting.
The path would also rise and fall with the waterline. It would have to, of course, because the Thames is tidal—so tidal, in fact, that boats moored on the waterside are set into a perpetual jiggle by small waves. Boat wakes also lash the quayside, including those made by fast river ferries that dock at piers that the cycle path would need to thread past. This could turn a daily commute into a drunken cakewalk on a path wriggling like an eel—not to mention opening up the possibility of biking through the end result of cyclists’ seasickness on rougher days.
Not that the path would attract many people, of course. That toll would only push the idea that urban cycling is a fancy fad for the wealthy, designed for the sort of person who would look down on you for poisoning your kids with non-organic vegetables. If that sounds an extreme reaction to a few dollars’ outlay, bear in mind that the U.K. is a country almost entirely without tolls. They’re charged on a tiny clutch of bridges and on no roads. Given all these obvious flaws, why is anyone even trying to float this preposterous idea?
Britain has gone nuts…