London Mayor Boris Johnson announced Tuesday the start of an international competition to create a floating village on the River Thames to develop neglected industrial sites on the city’s eastern waterfront, and a new bicycle network with some Dutch-style segregated lanes.
The village will float on a 15-acre area of water in east London, which when completed, will be one-an-a-half times the size of the city’s Green Park, the Mayor said.
“It has the potential to become one of the most sought- after addresses in the capital while breathing new life back into London’s waterways,” Johnson said.
The floating village project will be linked to other parts of London by light rail and train, as land in the city grows in scarcity for development.
London’s docks are being targeted for redevelopment because of their depilated state, as well as unused warehouses and industrial land near London City Airport.
Johnson pointed to floating village schemes at ljburg near Amsterdam and Hafen City in Hamburg as examples of the kind of development he wanted.
Johnson also wants to make cycling an integral part of London’s transportation network by creating interconnected bicycle routes at a cost of $1.4 billion. The routes will include east-west segregated highway and back roads, or “quietways”, for less confident riders.
Apart from job creation, Johnson’s plan would reduce car usage which in turn will reduce fuel costs and pollution. Also, riding a bicycle saves hundreds of dollars a month in fuel, car maintenance, and insurance. With less money spent on foreign fuel sources, more is spend in the local economy.
While the mayor’s plan should help cycling to some extent, critics claim that is is nowhere near enough because the funding it provides only matches the last budget and that funding for cycling infrastructure should be doubled.
Andrew Gilligan, the mayor's recently appointed cycling czar, said the highways would be constructed by 2016, with the first "quietways" – unbroken cycle routes on quiet streets, imitating lines on the tube network – appearing next year. The cycling network is expected to be finished in 10 years.