Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mayor's TfL 'stealing from rail budget' for cable car after rejecting walking / cycling bridge

Thames cable car coming here
Let's face it. The cable car planned across the river Thames between the O2 and the Olympics is a something of a gimmick for tourists.

Last week, Tom Edwards of the BBC flagged that not only had the cost zoomed up towards the £60million mark but that the Mayor's Transport for London is funding the project from its rail budget. Get that? TfL is pushing up fares for most people on the trains in order to fund a tourist attraction. It's not just cyclists being stuffed by the Mayor's Transport for London, it seems.

Same cost would have built this instead
It took a canny cyclist from Southwark Cyclists to point out that the Mayor could instead have stuck with plans for something that would have been way more useful to people who live and work in London and actually need to get places. Namely, this. The Sustrans/TfL pedestrian and cycling bridge that was originally planned for a nearby crossing back in 2006.

"The proposed bridge started life as an Olympic Legacy vision, to connect planned greenways south of the Thames to the Olympic Park. However, it was increasingly apparent that an existing need for a north-south crossing to serve Canary Wharf had been identified....A bridge is therefore proposed to link the Rotherhithe Peninsula to the Isle of Dogs at Westferry Circus, providing the opportunity for commuters from south of the river to travel directly to the heart of this important business and financial district. The bridge would be the first Thames crossing to cater specifically to cyclists as well as pedestrians, and as such would make a landmark contribution to the Mayor’s sustainable transport goals."

Sounds amazing doesn't it? Something that could have worked for people north and south of the river, providing easy and quick access for tens of thousands. The Mayor could have gone ahead and built this. But he didn't. Instead, the Mayor is trying to get us excited about a gimmick that will weave a maximum 2,500 people across the river for a fee.

The cycling and walking bridge was estimated at £66 million to build. The gimmick will cost £60 million. So much for the Mayor's "contribution to  sustainable transport goals".

To read more about the scrapped bridge, look at this report by Sustrans, which suggests that over one million people would have used the bridge on foot each year and possibly as many as 1.5million people on bike. Makes the cable car feel like a real waste of money, doesn't it?