Category Archives: Cycle safety

Can’t stop the Bikes

Good news coming from Kenisngton and Chelsea, where planning for the new Boris Bike docks is at an advanced stage.

The crucial decision over Lavender Gardens in Wandsworth borough is due next week.

And though this blog was set up to comment exclusively on cycle hire issues, I would draw your attention to the work a number of us have been engaged with in the Regent Street / Haymarket area. This part of town is quite dense with docking stations, yet a nightmare of conflict between traffic and cyclists. Let's hope for a resolution which benefits us all.

And maybe Westminster are eventually seeing the light on cycling. This article in the Evening Standard suggests they are starting to take safety seriously.

Boris bikes and bad journalism

Thank goodness few people read the Wandsworth Guardian, because it contains one of the worst pieces of journalism I have ever read. It pains me to give it more coverage than it's due, but here it is.
Boris bikes - a threat to children and blind people? Unlikely

Once you've got over that shock, a few points are worth making. Firstly, at the end of the article Nick Aldworth explains why the power supply has been put in early, and makes it clear that it will be removed if planning consent is not given. The rest of the article is mainly scaremongering. What possible danger can sedately-paced Boris bikes pose to a nursery school, or for that matter, to a blind person? Far less than motor vehicles I can assure you. The loss of six parking spaces is nothing compared to the multiple journeys which will be possible into and out of the area by hire bike. As for the Shrubbery's 'Tudor foundations', has no-one noticed cars have been parking outside it for years? Let me be clear - cars clutter our streets, pollute, and are potentially dangerous. Bikes are smaller, emission free, and safe. My hope for Lavender Gardens is that it will be transformed from a busy motor thoroughfare into a haven for pedestrians and cyclists.

We need a shift in perceptions. One of the reasons given for rejecting a docking station on the Mall was conservation. Yet that street is a busy dual carriageway, with a car/coach park down one side. I hope Wandsworth, and other councils, will see through this sort of nonsense and embrace cycling as a safe, clean and healthy mode of urban transport fit for our future. I look forward to docking in Lavender Gardens soon.

Boris bikes – more to come

And the winner was ... Boris.

So the next 4 years will no doubt see further battles over road design and the totemic policy of 'smoothing traffic flow'; but on a brighter note, the Boris bike is here to stay, and by 2016 (and he apparently won't run for a third term) who knows how widespread they'll be? There are few details of the western extension yet, hopefully these will follow later this year.

Dock construction seems to be taking a pause. A new one has opened in John Islip Street, and Monument Street went live a couple of weeks ago, but I'm not aware of any others under construction which are not now open. It will be interesting to see how the scheme copes during the Olympic months. It's already quite worrying that on a fine evening, most of central London is empty of the bikes by mid-evening, making them useless for evening entertainment. Initially we were promised that more docks and a better understanding of the patterns of use would help Serco solve these problems. It seems the patterns of use are now well-established, and simply accepted.

A very interesting, and encouraging, article appeared recently in Bike Biz. It's an old argument that sheer volume of cyclists will help improve road safety because other vehicles can't help but take greater care. This seems to be happening now in some of the busiest areas of London, such as the City. There's a way to go though before this effect will calm some of our busier routes, and the removal of cycle lanes in favour of narrower streets (take St Paul's Churchyard as an example) can only increase the conflict between cyclists and other traffic.

Boris bikes are coming to New York too, in a scheme which will eclipse our own. 600 docking stations and 10,000 bikes should be in place by this summer, using the Bixi system, originally developed in Canada and used for our own beloved  Boris bikes. The prices are higher than London, but the omens look good for America's most ambitious bike hire scheme to date. Take a look at their website.