Last week I was cycling around the London docklands, on the day that the passenger gondolas for the new Thames cable car were first being tested. I have followed with interest the construction of the so-called “Emirates Air Line”, which is recently re-elected Tory mayor Boris Johnson’s latest vanity project. Seeing the cars installed and moving swiftly along the cable brought home the hideous reality of the whole £60 million and largely taxpayer-funded scheme.
What struck me on seeing the passenger cars was how small they are. In fact, they are not much larger than ski lift gondolas, and I fail to see how cyclists will be able to transport their bikes across the river in this way, as has been promised by Transport for London. That is if cyclists can afford the ticket price in the first place.
Another thing that struck me was how unstable the cars are in the face of a stiff but not unusually hard wind blowing along the Thames. As I watched the diminutive gondolas make their way along the kilometre-long cable at breakneck speed, I noticed them swaying from side to side in a most alarming manner. Even when they were static, as viewed from the Albert Dock terminus, I felt physically sick as I followed their flapping motion. And that was with me on terra firma!