The BBC article calls it a canoe, but the watercraft pictured is actually a kayak though this might be a case of UK vs American terminology. You kneel in canoes and usually use a single-ended paddle, while in kayaks you sit with your legs extended and use the double paddles.
A lot of web resources tell you the difference is in the decking -- kayaks have a deck while canoes are open, but this is incorrect. There are closed deck canoes complete with skirts, and in fact my wife used to run Class III and IV rapids on closed deck white water canoes. Kayaks also come in open deck "sit on top" models.
Not surprisingly, there are some "kayak commute" websites out there:
- How to kayak to work in Bellingham Bay.
- Kayak commute in arctic conditions. Brrrr.
- Can I kayak to work in the San Francisco Bay Area? Answer: "Kayaking the bay is not very difficult in the mornings or evenings, when the water is calmest, as long as you steer well clear of the Golden Gate Bridge. The currents are very strong there because all the tides come in and out only through there -- that's a lot of water. Probably a good idea to stay south of Treasure Island and the Bay Bridge, too. It will take you at least an hour in ideal conditions unless you're a really strong paddler. And then you'd have to stow your boat and gear, not to mention desweatification."
- CICLE: Kayaking to work in Millvale, PA.
- Kayak commuter photo gallery from Boulder, Colorado.