Category Archives: The Mall

Western Extension – the Roadshow

Yesterday I went to the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith to view TfL's plans for the future of Boris bikes, namely the extensions into Wandsworth and Hammersmith and Fulham, plus some new areas of Kensington and Chelsea and Lambeth.

The exhibition wasn't at all high tech - in fact it consisted mainly of one map showng new possible docking locations - but the staff were friendly and I had some excellent discussions.

The extension is ambitious, and will put about 200 new docking stations around London. Most should contain 25 or more docks - TfL now concede the smaller ones put in as part of phase 1 are difficult to manage in terms of bike flow. Of these 60-70 will be in each of Wandsworth and H&F. There will also be new docks in the rest of K&C taking in North Kensington, and Lambeth through Nine Elms and Stockwell - not quite as far as Brixton sadly.

In the central area, new docks will be constructed on sites where permission has already been given. This will include docks near St Thomas' Hospital, Blackfriars station, Cannon Street and Westminster Central Hall. The redistribution problems at King's Cross remain an issue, and a new site there is being investigated. It is a little alarming that further new sites are not being sought centrally; increasing commuter flow continues to cause problems with availability which can only be eased in the long term by new and extended docking stations.

I queried why no dock is proposed within Battersea Park, as parks are a good place for novice cyclists to start off. Also, Battersea has good tracks for cycling. I still have no satisfactory answer - the need for 24hr access is not a reason as there are docks within Kensington Gardens which are not available at night.

Issues remain with the relationship between TfL and the Royal Parks - the latter being broadly negative in their attitude towards new docks. If you haven't already, sign our petition for a new dock on the Mall in St James's Park, to push for a new dock in this poorly served area.

I think the staff who look after the cycle hire programme are genuinely enthusiastic and committed to the scheme. But they are hampered by a lack of joined up thinking on cycling in London. The need for a body to devise and implement a London-wide cycling strategy is greater than ever. Otherwise the potential good of new Boris bikes will simply be negated by poor road safety, lack of high quality routes, and dock locations being blocked by competing agencies such as Royal Parks or obstructive councillors.

If you have a chance to go to the roadshow - it's running at several further locations this week.

The Mall – Time to Act

I wrote in a recent post about the need for a docking station on the Mall, to increase cycle hire access for tourists and workers in Westminster, to plug a gap in an area whch has too few docks, and to improve the provision of sustainable transport in a historic part of Westminster.

Today I received a reply from TfL to my query - the Mall is indeed being considered as a possible location for a dock. So this is the moment to make the voice of Boris bikers heard - please sign a petition (supported by this blog and Two Wheels Good) calling on TfL and Royal Parks to work towards a Mall docking station. In my previous post I gave details of how to write in support of a dock here. If you have 5 minutes, please do.

In other news ...

The proposed docking locations in Wandsworth have been revealed, to a mixed reception. A series of roadshows will be held in the coming weeks. Go if you can, and support the docks.

The Mall – Time for the Bikes?

Boris bike on the Mall - no docks here
I have written extensively on this blog, and others have elsewhere, about the Cycle Hire scheme. But never in all that time have Boris bikers been approached by TfL to ask us where we would like to see a dock situated. Having commented on the Royal Parks, it is time to make a case, that being for a docking station on the Mall.

Back in 2009 Boris bikes were still in the planning stage. TfL submitted an application for a docking station on the Mall. It would have been quite big. But it was rejected. You can view the paperwork here. Remember that this all happened before the scheme was up and running. Since then a lot has changed, but the Mall still has no docking station. In fact, a quick look at a map of docking stations shows that the Mall is part of a really quite large area of London with no docks at all. This is despite it being an area popular with tourists and workers alike.

The arguments made against the docking station centred around the 'special character' of the area. Now, having worked in an office overlooking the Mall for nearly 8 years, I understand the Mall's character very well. On a normal working day, it is a dual carriageway, ferrying huge numbers of motor vehicles, mainly taxis in fact, through central London. It is noisy and polluted. Many cyclists also use the Mall, but it is not a tale of equals; motor traffic moves quickly and aggressively. On Sundays only the Mall excludes cars, and pedestrians and cyclists rule; it is, comparatively, a haven.

Considering the unpleasant state of the Mall at present, with its noisy and polluting traffic, what possible reasons might prevent installsation of a docking station for cycle hire? One reason advanced is that it may clutter the 'special character' of the Mall. But, as the Palace rightly points out in its submission (which supported a dock) as long as these can be removed on ceremonial occasions (which they can), there is no objection. This has happened seamlessly for Olympic events this summer in fact. The docks themselves are less than a metre high. The tallest part of the set-up is the terminal, but as this incorporates maps, it would actually benefit those using the area. In short, the docking station would clutter the Mall far less than the current noise and pollution of constantly moving traffic.

Now that the objections to a Mall dock have been set aside, let us turn to the benefits of a cycle hire dock, and the reasons why the Mall in particular is an appropriate location:

- there is ample space for a docking station.
- a docking station at this location will have very high levels of useage from local workers and tourists alike. Visitors to the Mall, St James's Park and the Palace neeed a dock which is in clear view.
- more BCH cyclists will help reduce motor traffic through the Mall area by getting more people on bikes. Therefore the whole area will be safer for pedestrians, have cleaner air, have less noise pollution, and be less congested with motor traffic.
- There is no docking station convenient for the Mall at present, restricting use. The nearest are towards Wellington Arch (at some distance) and in Waterloo Place (try carrying your bike up all those steps).

In the years since the original application was submitted, there has been a shift in perceptions of the economic and environmental benefits of cycling. Cycle hire has been embraced, and almost 40,000 journeys are made each day. The Olympic and Paralympic Games have inspired us to lead more active lives, and created a positive vibe for cycling. With expansion of the Boris bike scheme due in 2013, this is the moment to seize to bring the bikes to a key part of historic and cultural Westminster.

Please support the call for a Boris bike dock on the Mall - 'Two Wheels Good' is calling for the same. Write to the Royal Parks ([email protected]), TfL ([email protected]) and also your local London Assembly representative. If you're in Westminster, let your MP and councillors know your views. Together we can make a change.