Pic: Kingston Council

A plan by Kingston Council to get cycles off town centre roads has caused a row – with boaters on the River Thames.

The London borough plans a cycle track in the river (as pictured above) as part of a major revamp of cycling routes in the town. The scheme is being put forward in a bid for a share of £100 million being offered by London Mayor Boris Johnson to improve cycling infrastructure across the capital.

The section in the Thames, four yards wide and 700 yards long, will either be on pontoons or on posts into the river bed. It will link to a new bridge over the river.

But rowers and sailors say its effect on the Thames is unknown and could affect both navigation and the water flow. Kingston Rowing Club and Kingston Regatta are among the organisations that have raised concerns.

And Michael Shefras, chairman of River Users’ Group 8, to whose meeting plans were presented, said: “This seems a pie-in-the-sky scheme that has not been properly thought through. It appears to be a vision which has not taken into account river users.

“We do not have enough detail of how the pontoons would be anchored, how  boats will moor and how people would cross the pontoons through the cycles. 

“I have suggested a specific meeting with [the river users’ group] to discuss all the outcomes.”

Matt Carter, Harbourmaster for the Environment Agency, which regulates the non-tidal Thames, said: “We have concerns. We are talking to the council and we have not yet come to a view. But any structure in the Thames has to have our approval.”


Kingston Council Neighbourhood Engineer Paul Drummond said: “I am a bit surprised by the reaction from river users because we have modified the plans in the light of earlier comments.

“As far as the Thames is concerned the Environment Agency is God. We are waiting to hear what they say. What they say goes and if they ask us to carry our more surveys then we will do so. They are the experts on the river.”

When the wider scheme was announced Kingston Council said: “The aim is to make the borough’s town centres ‘mini Hollands’, as cycle-friendly as Dutch equivalents, and to get more people of all ages and abilities cycling by creating local infrastructure that makes going by bike more appealing.”

Mr Drummond said: “We see it as a win, win situation. It will encourage more people to get on their bikes, it will get cyclists off busy roads, it will encourage people to get out of their cars easing congestion.

“We are not aiming at MAMILs – middle aged men in lycra  - but people who have a bike but rarely use it. So there will be health benefits too.”

Story dated Dec 2nd 2013

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