Floating cycle path proposed
for London's River Thames

Thames deckway by River Cycleway Consortium

News: a proposal for a new east-west cycleway that would float on the River Thames has been unveiled by a consortium of architects, artists and engineers formed to promote the development of better cycling links in London.

The Thames Deckway aims to provide a solution to the British capital's "deep-seated traffic and pollution problems".

Proposed for a 12 kilometre stretch from Battersea in the west to Canary Wharf in the east, the cycleway would run close to the south bank of the river – away from the main water navigation channel.

The project by River Cycleway Consortium Ltd would provide a car-free route and potentially slash the journey time from end to end to half an hour by bike.

"London needs to think outside the box of conventional solutions to solve its deep-seated traffic and pollution problems," said the company in a statement. "The Thames offers vast, untapped potential to ease and improve London's infrastructure problems. What is needed is imagination to unleash it."

The pathway is designed to rise and fall gently with the river's tidal cycle, and to accommodate commuter and leisure cyclists, as well as pedestrians.

Embankment ramps would be situated at intervals along the route, along with a series of stopping points and refreshment kiosks.

Traffic flow and density, river movement and waves, and any hazardous conditions would be monitored by satellites, weather stations and on-board sensors could relay information directly to the Thames Deckway's users.

River Cycleway Consortium Ltd – currently including engineering giant Arup and London-based Hugh Broughton Architects – estimates that construction costs would amount to approximately £600 million, which it would seek from private investment.

A flat rate of £1.50 would be charged for single journeys to generate revenue for maintainenance.

River Cycleway Consortium Ltd was founded by London artist Anna Hill and architect David Nixon, one of the founding partners of Future Systems.

Currently seeking funding for a detailed feasibility study, the company believes that, if successful, the infrastructure could be completed within two years from full go-ahead.

  • Ciarán Ferrie

    Yet another solution to London’s traffic problems that involves removing cyclists from the streets. If this is the answer then you are asking the wrong question.

  • samcooke6

    The base image is a bit old Norman. The Shard is half finished!

  • £600 million seems reasonable for a bike path.

  • rrrrich

    Is this a parody? It’s like putting a plaster on an amputated limb. The scheme sums up London’s delusional attitude towards cycling, sensationalising it to the point of ridiculousness – just like that cycle path in the sky nonsense from Foster.

    We already have space for cycling infrastructure everywhere. See all those parked cars on the side of the roads of central London? Where there isn’t parking all it takes is one lane closed off to traffic here and there. Wouldn’t that be greener than building more and more unnecessary infrastructure? But the rights of the few to parking and driving trumps the right of anyone else to clean air, cycle lanes, or an enjoyable city as it always does in Britain.

    And how exactly would a bunch of tourists paying £4.50 to ride their Boris Bikes (£2 day hire + £1 for one hour + £1.50 for this) along the river reduce pollution or improve the rest of London’s inhumanly designed traffic network exactly?

    All I see is another London ‘fairground ride’ made for foreigner tourists and investors at the expense of the taxpayer, no doubt under the false illusion of public spending which almost guarantees its approval. Can’t wait.

    • Alex Crawford

      It’s definitely a joke of some sort!

  • L00cy

    Stupid idea. If roads don’t work for people then fix the roads. Don’t remove the people!

  • Z-dog

    What a poor image to promote a novel project. Surely the architects could have mustered up a little more than that!

    Seattle has a floating bridge for cars. Would it be much cheaper to create a floating bridge for cyclists?

  • A good beginning to find the right solution for London transport.

  • Believe it when I see it

    Flying pigs and a floating cycle path? Terrible concept that will never actually happen in London.

  • CG

    Why spend more money on bike paths that will end up not being used like all the ones already in place?

    • Oeax

      Have you visited London recently?

  • This actually may appeal to sporty cyclists who set out to achieve mileage targets. But it’s not an alternative for proper bike lanes within city streets.

  • Hugo

    Hybrid/electric buses and taxis. These and only specially permitted vehicles such as deliveries and waste management in Central London. Simple. Reduce emissions and encourage cycling on an already existing infrastructure.

  • frankie0694

    That bike path is ridiculous. £600 million?! You must be joking. And £1.50 per use? People cycle so they don’t have to waste extra money, and now you’re going to charge them to use a pointless cycle path, when there are already roads to use? Just move the lazy asses who park all over the streets and then there would be more than enough room for cyclists and cars. If Amsterdam can do it, so can we.

  • Marmite

    It’s a great idea to remove those law breaking psychos from the street. Splash splash.

  • avlowe

    It would appear to have escaped the notice of the promotors that the River Thames meanders through central London, thus by heading for Lower Marsh from Westminster Bridge, one runs on to the road with the rather self explanatory name of The Cut, which takes you in a near straight line across the back lanes to Borough High Street, with the choice of travelling further east until the Thames gets closer at Tower Bridge Road or cutting up to London Bridge over a far shorter distance.

    This route of course has the infinite selection of connectivity as you can turn off onto any other street or lane to get the most direct route between the parts of London you are travelling between. The floating path will by necessity have only a limited number of points for entry and egress, making it less convenient that the current South Bank path, which aside from a couple of pinch points actually provides a flowing route, that many use as a low speed and more leisurely option than the Victoria Embankment on the North side, where it is safer and more comfortable to ride at speeds at 20+ mph on a carriageway laid out for cycling as transport.

    I for one would feel uneasy about riding at a 24Km/h average speed on a path which could be four metres wide or less, and potentially have to ‘flex’ to accommodate the movement of water from passing. Shipping, especially the powerful Cory tugs hauling 1000-1500T of refuse or other loads through the city taking up to 75 trucks off the street at a time.

    Perhaps actually managing out the need to move bulk materials around for great distances on London streets is a more effective safety measure than simply building cycle facilities, but not removing the trucks from the City. Hint: providing some decent wharf or rail siding facilities, which could for many projects remove 150-300 truck movements per day for some of the bigger projects taking place, might actually be a better way to spend some cycle safety cash.

    Remember too that every segregated path has to re-merge with the general roads network at some point for all cycle trips with a third of cyclist casualties presenting at A&E as the result of a crash when moving between a carriageway and an off-road path of some kind.

    Separated routes for any sort of transport are best introduced when the volume of that particular type of transport demands a carefully tailored network to ‘fit’ it, thus railways have fast, slow and goods lines often with grade-separated junctions where traffic gets to run more smoothly as a coherent flow at the same speeds.

  • Sebastian Elliott

    Sensationalising cycling in this manner is necessary to encourage new cyclists, like a Bilbao effect for bikes. A long bike path away from any motorised traffic is the perfect place to learn to cycle in the capital and build confidence in self-ability.

    This can lead to the eventual critical mass of cyclists compared to motorists where clearing up existing infrastructure will be possible. As it stands, just pushing for the same removal of cars from streets is working at walking pace, when the pedals in motion can always go faster.

  • Toscana

    London’s ‘deep-seated traffic and pollution problems’ are caused by the fat arses ensconced in the deep seats. The answer to these problems is to remove the cars, lorries and vans from the streets, and convert the buses, taxis and remaining delivery vehicles from diesel to something that doesn’t kill everyone. This ridiculous scheme is just a publicity stunt. However, if they want to channel that funding for a feasibility study in my direction, I’d be happy to spend it for them.

    • Alex Crawford

      Nicely put!

    • Toscana

      Incidentally this very same idea was being mooted by yet another half-witted intern at a trendy architectural practice when I first started cycling in London 20 years ago.

      Even if anyone was dumb enough to build it, the only way they’d get anyone to use it would be if there were traffic lights every 100 yards on permanent red for people to ignore.

  • Alex Crawford

    Do not like! Just because no one’s got the courage, conviction or political will to challenge the taxis/lorries/cars currently clogging up our roads, it doesn’t mean vast sums of money should be spent skirting the issue, pandering to drivers and adding to the clutter, albeit on our river. I also wouldn’t fancy paying £1.50 if I was using it every day!

  • Nick

    We should be building more links in and out of the city, not restricting them. Or is that just “nonsense” in your view?

    • rrrrich

      Throwing more and more infrastructure at London’s urban mobility problems is not going to solve anything. Improving the existing infrastructure would be more than adequate starting point and from there we can see what new links are truly needed.

      Denmark and Holland have managed this pretty well without anything like this. In short, we need cars gone, rather ever more extravagant car-avoidance strategies. The biggest change needed is behavioural.

      And what if you need to take two, or even three ‘floating™/skyline™’ lanes to get where you need to go, £4.50 per trip? (assuming you own your own bike).

  • Velo Mondial

    Nice idea, especially if and when combined with a detailed network in London, which should be a first priority.

    If not combined with an on-street network the only people who will benefit are the persons that need to go from exactly the beginning to exactly the other end.

    In that sense it encounters the same issues as the skyway. Not invented by cyclists but by car people who want to keep their on-street space.


    Will there be traffic lights they can ignore and pedestrian paths they can skip over? If not, I don’t think it will be used.

  • whatsup

    This is so stupid and a waste of a lot of money.

  • Ben

    Surely the biggest problem is that it looks rubbish? Check this out for a cycle path over water: http://dw.dk/cykelslangen/

  • Rocket

    Greetings from Nelson NZ. I am a cyclist. This is exactly the sort of ludicrous nonsense which is promoted by councils here too. We also have a catchphrase of “Share the Road”, which is the real solution to traffic problems when properly implemented, We don’t need “cycle lanes”, just an acceptance that we too are citizens and pay taxes and rates.

  • Arjay Cee

    To be fair to this third-rate design, the Thames in that stretch looks as bad as any length of scaly oceanside Miami. So points for sensitivity to context.

  • Boris

    I haven’t read many comments on pollution, which to me seem like a much larger problem. As someone who lives in the City I tend to walk as much as possible.

    Bicycle lanes are indeed dangerous, but the pollution from cars is 1000 times worse. This new proposal to make cycling safer is not the right solution. What I would like to see is LESS CARS. I live near Old Street and it’s horrible to even walk there, let alone cycle.

    I’ve seen many cyclists wearing oxygen masks like they have in China where air pollution is 100000 times worse than London.