Category Archives: Barclays Cycle Hire

Changes coming to Boris bikes in 2015

It's been a successful year for the beautiful blue bikes, with the highest usage since launch, and new records set. And of course it's been the first full year with the bikes out as far as Hammersmith and Putney.

The rate of change has slowed (hence less posts on this blog!) but we are promised in the coming months new docking stations on Tower Hill, in Vauxhall and near Putney Pier.

And in a new announcement, we hear that TfL will seek to install up to 1,000 new docking points in the existing area covered by the scheme during 2015 - a great Christmas present for all Boris bikers.

Hire charges will also be simplified; it'll cost £2 per extra half hour after the first 30 minutes.
Between 80 and 90 percent of users of course complete their journey in under 30 minutes.

We still await the announcement of the new sponsor to replace Barclays, but with new plans afoot, and at last plans for more protected cycle lanes coming to London's streets, the future looks bright for cycle hire in London.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Southwest and Beyond

So the big day came and went, without much fanfare. It's interesting to speculate as to why TfL decided to launch this extension at the darkest and bleakest time of the year - almost every day since the launch has seen rain, hardly conducive to cycling, especially the sorts who use Boris bikes. Maybe they want a gentle beginning to the extension.

Comment on the end of the Barclays sponsorship rumbles on. My own view is at the end of this post.

And dock availability is still an issue.

There is interesting news from further afield - Boris bikes have made it to Mont Ventoux and to Gambia. Impressive. Will they make it to Southwark borough anytime soon I wonder?

I posted this about Boris biking in K&C, with a few additions by my TwoWheelsGood friend.

My letter to the Standard about Barclays wasn't published, but here it is if you're interested:

Few will lament the end of the association of Barclays with the Mayor's cycle hire scheme. Despite the promise of £50m sponsorship, barely half of that has emerged. Barclays logos have been lavishly splashed across London's streets, while the bill for installing the 'Boris bikes' has in fact been left to councils, and users who have seen fares double in the past year.

If we are to learn from the mistakes of the past we must ditch the idea that essential public transport options, which cycle hire is, should be paid for by private sponsorship. We don't have the 'Lloyds Underground' or 'Virgin DLR' for good reasons. If cycle hire is worth investing in (which I believe it is) it should be funded centrally from TfL's budget, and, crucially, integrated with other transport options. In the short term this may mean Londoners pay more for the bikes, but with the result that London gains a city-wide affordable cycle scheme giving all of us the chance to travel sustainably and healthily, and, dare I say, with a bit more fun that a crowded train carriage.

More new docks as Southwestern Extension draws near

Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth, are ready for the launch of around 150 new docking stations on Friday.

In the meantime we welcome St Bride Street (City of London), All Saints Church (K&C), and Duke Street Hill (Southwark) to the family. This evening there are 598 live docking stations across London.

In other news, Barclays will not be sponsoring the bikes beyond 2015. Considering the controversy of the sponsorship deal, this is probably for the best, though it will be interesting to see whether a new sponsor takes over, and what the bikes will look like in the post-Barclays era.

Changes coming this weekend

Casual users will be unable to access Boris bikes for around 24 hours this weekend (14/15 Sep) due to upgrade work to terminals. Annual members will be unaffected.

Terminals will be upgraded this weekend
The software upgrade comes ahead of the scheme's expansion later this year. There will be a number of benefits, including the ability for one person to have multiple keys with different access options, enabling annual members for example to have extra keys available to lend to friends and family when they visit or want to cycle together. In addition, casual use will be made easier, cutting out the irritation of inserting the payment card multiple times.

These changes are in response to customer feedback, and hopefully the short interruption to the service will pave the way for an improved hire experience.

Here is TfL's press release on the changes.

Construction starts on new docks

Work has begun to build the new docking stations which will extend the scheme south and west. They look set to become operational in the autumn.

Details of the docks being planned in Wandsworth are available here.

Other boroughs included in the extension are Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, and Kensington and Chelsea. Plus there will be a few new docks in the existing zones.

Some useful background is provided in this TfL paper.

Boris biking – a new dawn?

In the 4 months (!) since my last post, not a lot has changed. Slow and steady planning progress has been made towards the Western Extension; bad weather has reduced useage to a quarter of what it was at its Olympic peak; oh, and yes, the charges did go up. And then everything changed ...

See the Mayor's new vision for cycling here.

The obvious caveat is to wonder how much of this will actually come to fruition, but for now let's applaud the vision, and admit that the Mayor's vision for cycling has certainly changed from the rather impotent 'Cycling Revolution' we were initially promised. A good analysis of the new strategy is on the Cyclists in the City blog.

So let's think about what it promises on cycle hire - here's the text with my comments:

XII. Expanding and improving cycle hire

 We will extend Barclays Cycle Hire to many parts of Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and
Wandsworth by the end of 2013. This represents a nearly 30 per cent rise in the size of the
scheme, to around 11,000 bikes.

No news here, this is already in planning. More likely early 2014 by the time all the docks are installed.

 Our new mainline terminus Cycle hub will have London’s largest docking station, with at least
several hundred bikes, at our new mainline terminus Cycle Superhub (see above), with very
good cycle routes linking from it. This and the wider bike parking at the Superhub will help
address unsatisfied commuter demand.

One assumes this will not be Waterloo which already has a superdock. Paddington maybe? Kings Cross / St Pancras would probably be my preferred option, though the Euston Road is a barrier to cycling. Victoria would be nice, but I don't think there's space. A consideraton here will be the massive new commuter flow set up - are there enough docks in central London to cope with the increased demand?

 We will expand popular docking stations, where space and planning allows, to reduce the
problem of empty and full docks. This will involve reducing the number of bikes at less wellused
docking stations.

That's fine - but why reduce the number of bikes at less popular stations? Just have more bikes overall surely?

 We will open (or move) docking stations along our Quietway and Central London Grid routes
(within or just beyond the existing footprint of the scheme) to drive usage of the new routes.

Perfectly sensible, though opening new stations is to be preferred. If, as I think, this strategy will significantly stimulate cycle use in central London, many more centrally located docks will be needed. Plus why abandon sites which are already installed and have planning permission?

 We will carry out incremental expansion of the footprint where there is strong demand.

This is quite nebulous - what is strong demand? And might this favour affluent neighburhoods rather than others, where community groups are vocal and well-organised. Indeed, might it depend on the particular whims of local authorities? I would prefer to see a more centrally-planned scheme for expansion which will eventually cover all of London.

 We will work with local authorities who wish to pay to extend the footprint such as to Kentish

See above - what if authorities don't want to pay? No-one should be denied the bikes simply due to local politics.

 To drive usage, we will encourage companies, universities, colleges and hotels to install new
docking stations on their premises, at their own expense, for the use of their staff, students
and guests.

This is brilliant, if it's carried out properly, and the docking stations are located in public areas. In fact, it's probably the best way of addressing the capacity issues in central London. I could imagine a large dock in the grounds of Imperial College, just to choose one example.

 For this, we will particularly target companies and universities with a number of separate
central London sites which are slightly too far apart to walk between, but slightly too close for
public transport to be convenient.

I'm not entirely sure how effective this will be, but I don't object.

 Given the heavy use of the scheme by tourists, we will develop and market Barclays Cycle Hire
tour routes, along quiet streets, which they can follow, with appropriate signage, printed
leaflets, website downloads and apps for their phones. This again will drive usage.

Great idea - though I also think docking stations need to be better sited for tourist useage. Docking stations for St Paul's and Westminster Abbey for example are hidden in side streets. And dare I mention the Mall??

 We will integrate cycle hire with the roll-out of contactless payments using credit, debit and
charge cards, to make it a fully joined-up part of the transport network.

No objection to that - shame the system can't accept Oyster

Overall, the opportunities for cycle hire within the strategy are somewhat more limited than the ambitious initial phases of the scheme. Yet .the network of safer routes should significantly stimulate demand for the bikes, which in itself will further the case for further expansion and intensification. Boris calls for cycling to be 'de-lycrafied' - what better way than through the bikes which bear his name?

Boris Bike Charges to Double

TfL has announced that from the new year, cycle hire charges will increase from £1 to £2 for daily access, from £5 to £10 for a week, and from £45 to £90 for a year.

There are reports in various newspapers including the Telegraph and Metro.

A doubling of fares for cycle hire users is bad news for cycling in London. Much of the success of the scheme has owed to its value for money in comparison to other modes of transport, and by making these increases the Mayor risks losing the support Boris bikes have enjoyed since their introduction. Perhaps if we were assured that the extra income generated from the fare rises would be used solely for improving and expanding the network of bikes and docking stations, it might be justified, but what seems more likely is that users will end up paying for the bad deal Boris did with Barclays, which has failed to provide the necessary funds to make cycle hire financially viable. I would urge the Mayor to reconsider - Boris bikes are a sustainable and healthy way for Londoners to travel, these charge increases will simply discourage the revolution in cycling which the Mayor himself has claimed to support. There are already so many barriers to cycling in London - higher fares simply create one more.

I will be writing to my Assembly Member to ask for this decision to be reviewed. The funding of the Boris bike scheme needs a thorough review if the scheme is to remain popular, affordable and an encouragement towards London becoming a cycling city.