Between the “floating paradise gardens,” floating lidos and floating luxury developments, it’s certainly never a dull (floating) movement along the tidal River Thames in London.

Next up? A floating bike highway that, if built, would carry daily bike commuters on a roughly 7 1/2-mile segregated path winding alongside the south embankment of the Thames from Battersea to Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs.

According to Google Maps, cycling on at times treacherous and congested surface roads through the heart of London from Battersea to Canary Wharf would take roughly an hour — and a harrowing hour at that. Both safe and scenic, the proposed floating pathway would trim down that commute time.

Dubbed the Thames Deckway, the conceptual east-west cycling path is the brainchild of the River Cycleway Consortium Ltd., a company founded by architect David Nixon and artist Anna Hill and including both London-headquartered global engineering firm Arup and Hough Broughton Architects. The former is also involved with the aforementioned snazzy, pedestrians-only Garden Bridge project which would span 1,204-feet over the Thames from Temple to the South Bank.

If either project is realized, the Thames Deckway would travel directly under Garden Bridge — not to mention every existing Thames-spanning bridge in central London — while also navigating around/under other permanent South Bank fixtures such as docks, piers and the HMS Belfast, which is pictured in the above rendering at its mooring off the Foster + Partners-designed More London complex and the bulbous showstopper otherwise known as City Hall.

It's also unclear where the South Bank-hugging Thames Deckway would actually cross the river given that the route's eastern terminus, Canary Wharf, is on the opposite bank.

River Cycleway Consortium proclaims in a statement:

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

Imagination and cash. Lots and lots of cash.

With an estimated price tag of £600 million (about $960 million), the River Cycleway Consortium would seek out private investors to fund the project (funding for a feasibility study needs to come first). Maintenance and upkeep would be paid for through flat-fee tolls of £1.50 ($2.40) collected at various entry and exit ramps connecting the pathway to the embankment. And just like any proper toll road, this bikes- and pedestrians-only turnpike would have various refreshment stands and rest stops along the route.

The path itself would rise and fall with the natural tidal cycle of the Thames. Potential hazards along with traffic flow and density would be continuously monitored via satellite while any power needs such as lighting would be generated by the sun, the wind and the tide.

And the Thames Deckway isn’t the only starry-eyed floating bike highway proposed for London. Earlier this year, bike-riding British starchitect Lord Norman Foster (The Gherkin, the Millennium Bridge, Wembley Stadium, More London, Apple's bananas 5 billion dollar mother ship in Cupertino, etc.) unveiled his plans for SkyCycle, a sprawling lateral network of dedicated bike paths elevated over existing rail tracks. If Foster’s proposed "cycle utopia" that spans 136 miles and sports a whopping 200 entrance points is given the green light, it would take an anticipated 20 years to complete. The River Cycleway Consortium, on the other hand, expects Thames Deckway project would take about two years to get up and running.

Both fanciful pojects, of course, evoke the same question: is removing cyclists, not cars, from London's roads and erecting shiny and expensive (more on that in a bit) new works of infrastructure to accommodate them a smart approach? Or an incredibly misguided one?

Via [Dezeen] via [The Verge]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Floating toll path would let London cyclists zip up and down the Thames
With an estimated price tag of nearly a billion dollars, the 7-mile bike highway would help alleviate London's traffic and air pollution woes.