Taxi Noir: Boris Johnson’s Channel Bridge
So, Boris Johnson has been mandated to govern the UK for another four years. I shan’t be drawn into making value statements on the outcome of the recent General Election, we’ll just have to see what happens.
Before becoming Prime Minister, Boris was London Mayor, and he was never short of ideas. In 2018 he suggested building a bridge spanning the English Channel. It’s a shame no-one supported his idea, as it sounds great! OK, a bit fanciful, but it’s entirely possible that Boris’s idea could be realised with the right backing. Had the French suggested it, the suggestion would have been taken seriously; but because it’s that mischievous mop-top, people just laugh about it. Maybe people remember his New York-style garden bridge idea, the one that cost the taxpayer £46 million without a brick being laid? Fair enough, but at least he had a go.
The bridge idea seems strange in the light of Britain’s forthcoming/possible/highly unlikely exit from the European Union, but if we managed to bridge the English Channel, it would open France wide open to both tourism and commuters. Structurally it’s do-able. I had this confirmed when I Googled the subject (possibly the same websites that Boris uses). This could be a garden bridge by the back door, only bigger and better.
A bridge would be much more versatile than the present tunnels for trucks and trains. A bridge could open up the continent to many forms of transport, including pedestrians. There could be some kind of tram connecting the two towns at both ends. Pedestrians wouldn’t normally be expected to walk the whole length, but there could be a rank of Boris Bikes at the foot of the bridge. I wonder if taxi drivers from Kent ever get any runs to France? The bridge could lend itself to fixed-price shuttle services from both the English and the French side (cross-border hiring legislation will need to be looked at).
Any new bridge project would have to be planned properly though. Would it be built to British or French specifications? Would they switch to driving on the other side of the road half way over? The bridge would have to be very long, but also very wide. I expect the French would want to build a few wine bars and patisseries on it. Very nice too. And they’d need a bit of greenery on which to walk their doggies.
A bridge administered by the British is more troubling – just look at the London bridges. Although it would be in Kent, the British section would no doubt be run in accordance with Transport for London’s anti-motorist agenda. How long before contractors are sent to mark out cycle lanes? A paved strip will then appear down the middle of the carriageway, to provide jaywalkers an unlimited crossing space, and to provide an extra lane for cyclists and motorcyclists, just like Regent Street or The Stand. Segregated vehicle, cycle and pedestrian lanes – by all means; but please don’t let it resemble the chaos of the London bridges. It’s not just the old mayor that we need to worry about; the present one needs watching too.
The foot of the bridge would soon become an untidy mess of rickshaws and Uber cars (unless TfLs ban is for real this time). Ice cream vans will appear on the bridge; plus pavement artists, blokes painted silver, &c., &c… I feel sorry for the good burghers of Dover or Calais if the bloke with the bagpipes re-locates from Westminster Bridge.
It must be about twenty-six miles from Dover to Calais – about the same length as a marathon. This won’t go un-noticed by interested parties. In no time, the bridge will start being closed for running and cycling events; perhaps food festivals, bus rallies, Pedestrian-only shopping Sundays, and American football promotions. Imagine the Christmas light switch-on?
So let’s get behind any channel bridge ideas in 2020. We have the opportunity to show our EU friends across the water that we’re still open for business and that we are still proud Europeans. And we’d need to build it quick. Like London’s red buses, there’ll probably be another election along soon.
Afore I go, I wonder if any readers think Boris looks anything like my old pet rabbit, Tufty?