Showing posts with label Boris Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boris Johnson. Show all posts

Friday, 15 August 2014

Whatever Next for London?: Swimming in the Thames?

It's early days yet, but serious consideration is being given to the idea of having fresh-water swimming pools, actually floating in the Thames.

Already architectural drawings have been produced which show a series of three pools to be located off Victoria Embankment.  One would be a 25 by 8 metre lap pool; another a 5 by 5 metre paddling pool; and the third a 12 by 8 metre plunge pool.  The baths would be attached to the shore by arm-like structures which will need to rise and fall with the tides each day.

The lido would take around 6 months to build, and cost £5.5 million.  Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has already approved a £40,000 feasibility study for this major new initiative, "... a London Lido".  The structure could be built by next summer if planning is approved and the necessary funding raised.

Chris Romer-Lee, co-director of the design company Studio Octopi, asserts "Swimming in them would feel like you were swimming in the Thames without any of the danger of doing so.  We want to create a controlled environment where it is safe to wild swim."

We can only wait to see if this project comes off, but I can't help feeling optimistic.  This would be one more amazing feature for London, and situated very close to the proposed Garden Bridge which, hopefully, will be open in the next couple of years.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Major Community Cycling Event in London and Surrey

Over the weekend we had lots of rain from the remnants of hurricane Bertha.  Nevertheless the RideLondon cycling event went ahead, and despite the sogginess over parts of Sunday afternoon, the day was undoubtedly a great success.

Altogether around 60,000 cyclists competed over the two days along roads which had been specially closed in London and the neighbouring county of Surrey.

The climax to the weekend was the finish over the 86-mile route of Adam Blythe who is the national circuit race champion.  Sir Bradley Wiggins also took part, although unfortunately his finish was a bit further back.  Nevertheless it was great to see him competing again.

The event director, Hugh Brasher, declared the festival to be "a fabulous celebration of cycling".  An indication of its success is that this year, despite the stormy wet weather, 25% more people finished than in 2013.  This makes it surely one of the most important sporting events in the world, particularly in terms of numbers of people actually participating.

Boris Johnson went so far as to assert that RideLondon "has cemented its status as the world's premier mass-participation cycling event".  He was so positive that "for all the families and kids who've hopped on to the saddle, to the elite athletes and enthusiastic amateurs who've battled through driving rain, it's been a fantastic advert for cycling and for our city".

It would be interesting to know the number of people from outside the UK who make a special trip to London for this event, just as they do for the Triathlon which was staged recently in East London.  One more feather in the cap of (sporting) London?  I think so!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Airports for London - Additional Runways urgently needed!

This concern about London's airports is particularly relevant with the bi-annual Farnborough Air Show currently taking place so close to London.  Simply put, London needs extensions to its current airport capacity.

London is distinctive in that it is served by 5 airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and City).  However only Heathrow has twin runways, and even Heathrow is running close to full capacity much of the time.  When special events, such as a snowfall, happen, then the airport can't cope with the additional demands and there can be major delays to flight departures.

The problem is that no one can decide where this additional flight capacity should be located.  Some authorities want a third, then a fourth runway at Heathrow.  Others think that it is more sensible to build a second runway at Gatwick.  The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is very keen on having a four runway airport built on an artificial island in the Thames, about 30 kilometres east of London.  This last proposal is receiving little support as it would be very expensive, at least £40 billion, and take decades to put together.

Personally I see a second runway at Gatwick as the best option.  There are already detailed plans showing the second runway a kilometre or so south of the current runway, with an extended new terminal building situated between the two runways which would reduce taxiing times.  Gatwick is already well served by public transport, having an adjacent railway station with five platforms handling around 10 trains from London an hour.

A final decision will be made within the next year or two: these enquiry processes usually drag on far longer than they should.  In the meantime, the greater use of higher capacity planes such as the A380 at Heathrow will enable the airport to handle more passengers.  There are proposals for more early morning flights, although not surprisingly these are fiercely opposed by anyone living near the flight paths.  Alternatively, for the time being, both Stansted and Luton could be handling more flights, although neither airport is really suitable for long distance passengers.

Feel free to make a comment if you feel strongly enough about any of these options.