Category Archives: boroughs

Friday the Thirteenth

Artwork on display at Central St Martins
On Friday 13 December about 150 new docking stations will go live across Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, and Lambeth. Plus a few others in the existing area. Many new stations have already gone live in Kensington and Chelsea (among the latest are Phene Street, Clarendon Road, Lansdowne Road and St Mark's Road).

This is the most exciting expansion of the Boris bike scheme since the eastern extension in April 2012. It will make the London scheme one of the biggest in the world.

Serious questions are currently being asked about cycle safety in London. For the potential of these new bikes to be realised, much more needs to be done in providing space for cycling in London. But on Friday 13th, thousands more Londoners will have access to a cheap, healthy and convenient transport option. I hope many more will switch to cycling as a result.

Around the boroughs – Tower Hamlets

Isle of Docks - Boris bikes in Tower Hamlets
In April 2012 cycle hire went live across the whole borough of Tower Hamlets in the first major extension of the Boris bike scheme. Tower Hamlets is a borough of great contrasts, with huge diversity, areas of poverty, and of course the headquarters of Barclays, the main sponsors of the bikes.

Story so far: At launch only the western margins of the borough had docks, such as at Wapping High Street and Leman Street. Quickly it was announced that the first extension would cover the whole borough, including the affluent Canary Wharf area, home of Barclays. With two superhighways (2 and 3) in the borough, you might have thought it a recipe for success, but CS2 in particular has been widely criticised, and cycling infrastructure in the borough isn't quite as good as it could be. There are also notable gaps - why no docks in riverside Limehouse, or on Westferry Road? The closeness of the bikes to Greenwich have led to some interesting excursions, but it will be a long time before we see docks on that side of the river.

Olympic glory - new dock coming to Old Ford Road
Coming soon: Tower Hamlets is more or less a done deal, though I know of one new station at the eastern end of Old Ford Road, close to the Olympic Park, which has also raised objections from locals. News of others would be welcome!

The future? A real opportunity for Tower Hamlets would arise if the bikes are extended to the Olympic Park. It would also be great if some of the gaps in the borough could be closed. Extension of the bikes north of Victoria Park could in future help the cycling culture there, and more docks are definitely needed at the western end of CS3.

Boris rating: 6

Around the boroughs – Hackney

Cycle culture: bikes on Pitfield Street
Hackney is famous for, among other things, being London's most cycle-friendly borough. A greater percentage of journeys is made by bike here than in any other London borough. But what about the Boris bikes?

Story so far: There has been cycle hire in Hackney since the launch of the scheme, initially docks were clustered close to the City in Shoreditch and its environs. The eastern extension of 2012 saw the bikes move into Hoxton and Haggerston.

Coming soon: I am grateful to the Suprageography blog for mapping the docking stations to be built on the northern edge of the
Dunston Street: signs of the future
scheme. A trip up north yesterday revealed a number of these stations are now under construction, so ten or possibly more new ones should appear in Hackney, centred on Haggerston north of the Regent's Canal, adding to the borough's bustling cycle culture. Not only will commuters benefit, there are docks situated canalside and close to Broadway Market for those looking for a leisure ride. I expect these docks to be popular, as Hackney has good cycle routes and a safer feel for the less-experienced cyclist.

The Future? Hackney is a large borough and only about a quarter of it will be home to Boris bikes, even after the expansion. I know of no future plans for enlargement in the borough but the cycling culture and a bike-friendly administration could one day see bikes moving further north into Dalston and Stoke Newington and east into Hackney Central and the area north of Victoria Park.

Boris rating: 6

Around the boroughs – Kensington and Chelsea

Story so far: K&C was included in the first phase of cycle hire and marked the western boundary of the scheme. New docks were added when Exhibition Road was repaved, and the 'eastern' extension of the scheme also included docks into the Westfield shopping centre, plus a scattering of stations to connect this to the existing zone. This left the borough essentially split, with no docks in the North Kensington area, or south towards the river.

Royal Borough: new riverside docks at Danvers Street
Coming soon: This year's expansion will make Boris bikes available across the borough, with bikes being added in the north and south, and additional docking stations being installed in the Holland Park area to intensify provision there. A provisional map is available here, though not all these stations have achieved planning permission. By my count, K&C will gain 31 docking stations in total.

The future? K&C is not known for being a bike-friendly borough (as a local councillor admitted to me recently). It has poor cycle routes, no plans for reductions in speed limits, and is generally dominated by motor traffic. Soon the borough will have an abundance of hire bikes, can it develop the infrastructure to enable their safe use by a wide diversity of users?

Boris rating: 6

Around the boroughs – Southwark

In the next two weeks I'm going to review all the boroughs which are currently, or soon to be, involved with the cycle hire scheme. I'll be asking what's there, what's coming, and what's still needed.

There's no particular order, so today I'm starting with Southwark.

Story so far: of all the central London boroughs this has the least docking stations, and most are in the Borough/ Elephant/Bermondsey area. All are popular docks, Hop Exchange probably being the busiest owing to its location close to London Bridge station. Curlew Street in Shad Thames is the easternmost station south of the river.

Southwark site: new docks will soon be here on Snowfields
Coming soon: intensification in the current expansion is limited to 3 docking stations close to London Bridge. These are much needed. Wansey Street has been closed for several months due to the fire at the Cuming Museum, hopefully this too will reopen.

The future? Southwark is the ideal borough for future expansion. It is central, relatively flat, and has potentially good cycling routes. Peckham, Rotherhithe and Camberwell would all be popular for Boris bike locations in my opinion. Docking stations could be added along superhighways 5 and 7.

Boris rating (out of 10): 4

Planning for new docks nearing completion

The Standard is running a quite silly article today.

The impression seems to be that hires are in decline, but if we look towards the end of the article, we notice that hires in the first two months of the year are up. And do you remember last March? It was the summer we never had, beautiful weather until the skies opened in April and, with a brief Olympic respite, continued all year. The contrast with freezing March 2013 couldn't be greater.

Over in the Times Matthew Parris has apparently complained he can't find anywhere to dock. I haven't read the article (I don't pay for the Times online) but is the fact that there are tidal flows of bikes during the day really big news? Sure we need more docks and better redistribution, but it was ever thus.

Another fun bit of news was that we might get bonuses for returning our bikes to an empty docking station. 'No immediate plans' is perhaps the take-home message of this article.

There is more concrete news though from the boroughs, where the long and largely unseen process of selecting and approving sites for new docking stations is underway for the southwesterly extension.

In Kensington and Chelsea, by my count 29 docking stations have been approved, with only 4 refused. In Wandsworth 57 have been approved, with only a few remaining to be determined, the most controversial being Lavender Gardens, on which my last post commented. Lambeth have approved most of their latest applications, 19 accepted, 1 refused. The loss of the site on Exton Street is regrettable, as the area around Waterloo is desperate for new docks. In Hammersmith and Fulham, 59 sites have approval, 3 were refused, and 27 are still pending.

It is disappointing that whereas the eastern extension also featured 'intensification' in the central area, this does not seem to be a feature this time. There are no new applications for sites in Westminster and the City.

Within a year all these new stations should be up and running. I imagine March 2014 will see quite a bounce back in hires from those the Standard reports today.