diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 05, 2021

I've written far too many posts about the Dangleway, including one last month, one in August and one in July. So today's challenge is to write five more.

1) The perfect way to stay active
TfL's sole remaining Twitter account is a twee emoji-fest these days. Of their nine original tweets so far this month two have been quizzes, two were cute photos and only one was core transport business (regarding 'leaves on track'). Bafflingly three of the nine tweets featured unusual things riding the cable car, specifically a dog, a DJ and two hire bikes. Any tweet which combines two of TfL's sponsored modes scores the marketing team extra PR points.
😍 You can take your bike on our cable car - including Santander Cycles! The perfect way to stay active and see some of the most unique views of the City at the same time ⤵️
Indeed you can take a hire bike on the cable car but you have to go out of your way to do so. The nearest docking station on the north bank is at East India DLR, one full mile away by road, so hardly convenient. Meanwhile the nearest docking station on the south bank is at Canada Water, at least four miles away, more likely five once you've ridden round all the obstacles maritime Greenwich can throw at you, and even if you take a shortcut through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel it's not short. A round trip would be a challenging route, perhaps fun for some but very much not 'perfect'. This is what happens when you force a tweet to tick boxes rather than basing it on real life.

2) Up, up and away
Ridership on the Dangleway is up, because of course it is because it's 2021 and no longer 2020. But this year is also proving better, passengerwise, than the years immediately before the pandemic. A typical week in September 2021 had 28,000 cable car passengers and you have to go back to 2016 to match that, while a typical week in August 2021 had 50,000 passengers and it's been 2014 since numbers were that high. This, I suspect, is what happens when English families aren't able to travel abroad for sun and sand so are having to make do with a brief dangle during a day trip to London.

3) The private cabin scam
TfL are still selling private cabins on the cable car at £60 a time, despite the fact that separate households always travel in separate cabins because of the pandemic and have done for well over a year. Book your ticket now, says the TfL website, not that it mentions the Private Cabin Experience but the landing page very much does. It's the fourth option down, above the upselling options where you get a River Roamer and maybe a trip to the London Transport Museum thrown in.

Only if you scroll down to the very bottom of the booking page might you read "All households or groups travel in a cabin of their own to ensure social distancing. By booking a Private Cabin you are skipping the queues." The Dangleway may be relatively busy at weekends these days, but only a gullible, rushed or profligate family group has any need to pay hugely over the odds to jump the queue. The Private Cabin Experience is also prominently advertised outside the northern Dangleway terminal, this time without any helpful smallprint, but I assume the ticketing staff warn you of the potential repercussions if you attempt to pay up.

4) The cable car is folding
If you've ever wanted to make your own Danglecabin out of paper or card, you're in luck. This is part of the latest activity from TfL's Craft Club for children, because of course such a thing exists, following up the success of 'Draw a Monster' and 'Build A London Bus'. The activity sheet kicks off with the perfectly decent idea of sketching a variety of everyday materials, then spins on a sixpence to suggest you can see wood and rock in a photo of the cable car. As contrived shoehorning exercises go, it's a stunner.

Your child's next task is to "draw a picture from the shore of the Thames" beneath the cable car, because the whole point of the exercise is to lure families to take a ride. And then they get to cut out a model (ask a grown-up to help you here) and colour it in.

The entire outside of the cabin is yours to fill in except for the logo. This is because it's crucial to get the sponsor's brand in front of consumers at a very early age, because full-on capitalism has gripped our public services and TfL is not immune. They've slipped up slightly by placing the biggest logo on the bottom where it can't be seen when resting the model on a shelf or bedside table, but the name of the airline remains plainly visible on one side. Best use a dark shade to colour over the top of it, children, before your impressionable mind is imprinted with the desire to fly abroad in a carbon guzzling metal tube. Cut it out.

5) A genuine tourist attraction?
Finally, for a bit of a laugh, I wonder if you've checked the description of the local area on TfL's Dangleway experience webpage.
North Greenwich is a bustling tourist spot, ideal for a day trip out with family or friends. There is a wide variety of things to do and see with sightseeing attractions such as the Cutty Sark and local history spots like the National Maritime Museum. You could also walk part of the Thames path and see the Thames Barrier.
It starts off well because there's plenty to do in North Greenwich, then displays a shocking misunderstanding of geography. The Cutty Sark and National Maritime Museum are a mile and a half away as the crow flies, which a bend in the Thames makes impossible, instead requiring an unfriendly walk or an end-to-end ride on the 129 bus. The Thames Barrier is a similar distance in the opposite direction, and not a thing you hop off the Dangleway to see.
From Royal Docks you can visit Newham City Farm, the Museum of London Docklands and the ExCeL.
Newham City Farm is a mile away, closed its gates at the start of the pandemic and (following a Newham council decision last month) will never reopen. The Museum of Docklands is five DLR stops distant, i.e. nowhere near, and ExCeL is a venue which welcomes conference delegates rather than families. The Dangleway basically drops you off on the northern side nowhere terribly thrilling, which'll be why quite so many passengers take non-stop round trips. You can't beat seeing the building site for the Silvertown Tunnel twice.

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