Category Archives: Southwark

I love … Santander cycles

The not-so-well-kept secret is out that Santander will be the new sponsor of cycle hire in London.

From April the bikes will turn red with the new Santander colours.

the new deal brings more money annually to the scheme than Barclays, and promises to promote the bikes more widely.

The promise of 1,000 new docking stations this year remains. Sadly, no expansion of the scheme has been promised alongside the new sponsorship.

While I welcome the new energy and cash that Santander brings, it is to be hoped that the bikes will go further in 2015 and beyond, as cycle hire becomes more integrated into London life.

Please sign this petition to bring Boris bikes to south-east London - money has been promised by Southwark Council, but the scheme has not to date been realised.

Expansion to the Olympic Park

Good news that a small expansion of the cycle hire scheme has been announced into the Olympic Park. Eight docking stations will provide 320 docking points. Construction will begin in 2015 and the stations will be opened by early 2016. They will be the first docking points in Newham borough.

There has been criticism of the cycle infrastructure in the Park, but overall I think conditions are appealing enough for a good uptake of cycling in the area. The most popular area for Boris biking currently is Hyde Park; perhaps the Olympic Park will be an eastern hub of similar appeal, also providing some revenue to TfL's coffers.

The news of the extension comes after good news on hire figures during the summer months.

But still there is no news on any further extension in the south, especially to Bermondsey and Camberwell in Southwark borough. This summer TfL had promised that further sites would be sought within the existing zones to intensify the scheme. To my knowledge, none have so far been realised.

New sponsor?

The association of Barclays with London's cycle hire scheme has always produced a mixed response.

They certainly don't seem to have delivered the sponsorship which was promised.

So TfL are going after a new sponsor from 2015. Who will it be? Will it make a difference?

Usage this year is good, but there is a lot more to do. A new sponsor should be judged on their commitment to:
  • Expand the scheme - Southwark Borough, and eastwards into the Olympic Park, have both been seriously proposed. More central docks are needed too.
  • Increase usage - surely 40k journeys per day is not unachievable?
  • Better integration - Boris bikes need to made available on Travelcards, to Oyster users, and with Contactless. At the moment it's just not joined up with other transport choices.
If I were a multimillionaire I would sponsor Boris bikes. But I'm not so I hope a good partner is found. The success of the scheme in contributing to a real change in cycling culture in London depends on it.

Boris Bikes: A Call for Expansion

The latest call to extend the scheme has comes from Wandsworth. Cycle hire has only recently been introduced in the borough, but is already  a success. Extending south would make sense.

As already reported on this blog, Southwark Council have agreed to their slice of the funding of Boris bikes in that borough. Even more than Wandsworth - Peckham, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Walworth and Camberwell need the bikes.

Usage seems to be up now that the winter is over, and new cycle routes, like the Quietways, are planned. TfL should use this momentum to announce the next phase of expansion of cycle hire. With a new sponsor to replace Barclays maybe?

In other news: expansion of Dublin bikes is planned. And Storey's Gate docking station has opened, bringing Boris bikes closer to St James's Park.

Cycling the Extension – some early thoughts

Despite the bad weather, it seems the extension has been a hit, especially in Hammersmith and Fulham. Though not everyone is happy.

And Boris biking is good for our health. I think the article is useful in pointing out that Boris bikers, despite being portrayed as inexperienced, are no more likely than any other cyclist to be involved in a collision, and that the health benefits far outweigh the small chance of injury.

So yesterday, seizing a gap in the rain, I headed west. Here are some initial thoughts:

Hammersmith and Fulham
I struggled to find a bike at first, as there are few stations in the West Brompton area, and those I did find were empty. Eventually cycling, I enjoyed the streets close to Craven Cottage and the riverside. However, Hammersmith Broadway really needs to be rethought for cyclists. Hammersmith Bridge is currently closed for cycling, so I had to push across on the footway.

South of the River
What a pity no docking stations have been installed in Barnes, though it would need the agreement of Richmond Borough. I cycled along Castelnau, took a shortcut down Rocks Lane, and headed towards the docking stations of Putney via Lower Richmond Road.

Putney has a horrible high street clogged with motor traffic. West of the high street there are no docks. But to the east, they are very high density indeed, which is good, but would have been better on both sides. A number of the streets are one-way - Wandsworth needs to adopt the practice of making streets two-way for cycling, and make better use of 20mph zones. Docking stations are however to be welcomed close to both the rail and Underground stations.

There is still much more for me to see of the new extension zones; any thoughts you might have, please leave a comment.

And I am encouraged that Southwark has confirmed that its financial contribution is available for the extension of the scheme through its streets. We await an announcement from TfL, hopefully soon, on the next phase of extension.

Today is the last day of the initial consultation on the Mayor's inner London cycling grid. While encouraging in some respects, there have been a number of criticisms, most specifically of the routes in Kensington and Chelsea. If done properly, the grid could provide safe, continuous and direct routes for Boris biking within central London.

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

Where next for the bikes?

An article which I did not read at the time discusses the reasons behind the uneven coverage of cycle hire docks in central London and its surrounds.

As docking stations are installed in the latest wave of expansion (partly paid for by the Councils, as the article notes) it is worth asking where future expansion should be planned.

The most obvious central London borough needing docks is Southwark. There are a handful in Bermondsey and Elephant, a couple on the northerly borders of Walworth (Wansey Street is currently closed after the Cuming Museum fire), and a few around Borough and London Bridge. In the current expansion, only three new docking stations will be built in Southwark, to serve the busy London Bridge area. As there is poor rail and tube provision, the best candidates for Boris bikes are probably Camberwell and Dulwich to the south and expanding east through Bermondsey into Rotherhithe and the Surrey Quays to the east. Peckham could also be included. These areas are not too hilly, and adjacent to the current central zone. In neighbouring Lambeth, bikes in Brixton and Loughborough Junction would complement this expansion, possibly as far as King's Hospital Campus on the southern slopes of Denmark Hill. It's not as far-fetched as it may sound, Southwark are already looking into it. However, with fears over funding (the bikes are not, it is often pointed out, self-funding as hoped) such an expansion might be wishful thinking.

If we refer to the Mayor's Vision for Cycling the plans for cycle hire are surprisingly unambitious. p26 mentions a superhub at an unspecified rail station, and expanded docking stations along cycle routes. What this document seems to hint at is that bikes need to be placed where they are going to be used. It is quite obvious that some of the docking stations currently installed, such as in the darkest corners of the Westfield shopping centre, or busy and inaccessible areas in the east of Tower Hamlets, are not the best use of money. A more intense presence of bikes in the central areas (close to stations, in the parks, and along superhighways and the future quietways) surely makes sense.

Another area mooted for expansion is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Frankly, it was daft not to put in bikes there for the Olympics, as it made the expansion out into Tower Hamlets rather pointless. Future expansion into this area I think will depend on the success of the extended CS2 route, and an urgently needed upgrade of the existing section of CS2 so that Boris bikers can safely move between the Park and central London. Considering the limits on funding, perhaps other areas should have a higher priority.

On a recent trip to Paris I was impressed by the Velib scheme. It is large, covering the whole city, docks are easy to find, numerous and large. Simply counting bikes by eye, it is better used than our own facilities. To rival its success, we need more ambition for our Boris bikes, with a co-ordinated approach which puts bikes where they're needed, and can be used with safety.

New docks for London Bridge area

Southwark Council has approved three new docking stations. Of particular interest is the Tooley Street site - being so close to the station it will be very busy I imagine.

The BBC has done an interesting report on how the cycle hire scheme is performing. The new redistribution scheme I reported on a couple of days ago may have an impact on future usage, as obviously will these new docks.