Category Archives: western extension

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
Town.

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?

Wandsworth wants more Boris Bikes

As part of the 2013/14 expansion, TfL has announced a major expansion of the scheme southwards and westwards. Only parts of Wandsworth borough are covered however, and campaigners, especially in the south of the borough, are pushing for bikes across the entire borough. They also urge the bikes to be installed at Clapham Junction.

If you have views you can email them to [email protected] gov.uk

I wholeheardedly support the Clapham proposal. It seems idiotic to leave it out, when bikes close to stations (think of Waterloo) are among the most popular. In my own response to the plans for the borough, I also identified Battersea Park as a major omission, as leisure cycling would benefit from a station there, and help new users build confidence before they head out onto London's busy streets.

The campaign for bikes in the rest of Wandsworth also has merit, but with so many other boroughs actively campaigning for the bikes, it's a matter of allocation of resources. Southwark, another central London borough, has been woefully neglected so far. In Lambeth, Brixton will remain a Boris bike desert.

All this makes me wonder why the mayor is bringing forward plans for a new road tunnel in east London for cars and lorries. At the cost of millions of pounds, we will get increased congestion and more pollution, when if the money were instead invested in cycling, everyone would benefit from cleaner and greener streets - a real cycling revolution for London. I've responded to TfL's consultation opposing the plans and calling for investment in sustainable transport - maybe you can too.

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.

Bring Boris bikes to NW5

Here's the latest petition from locals in NW5 to get Boris bikes to their area. I've signed, hope you will too. It's great to see local communities taking the initiative to get the bikes on their patch.

Time Out have an article on the southwest extension of the scheme. Nothing new in it, but great to see an article in a magazine which quite a few people will be reading.

UPDATE: Here's a news report on the NW5 petition.

Boris bikes going south and west

TfL has today released further details of the next phase of expansion of the Boris bikes scheme. Read all about it here. Late 2013/early 2014 is a little later than I think most people were anticipating, but it is still good news.

UPDATES

A map of the expansion area is available here

A map of proposed locations in Hammersmith and Fulham is available here

If anyone has further details, please post a comment

Preparing for the Bikes to Go West

On Sunday I met up with fellow blogger George (Two Wheels Good) and we took Boris bikes from Notting Hill down to the Fulham Road via Brompton Cemetery, then back through The Boltons and Kensington Gardens, eventually docking on Campden Hill. It was a warm afternoon, and cyclists were out in force.

"I love Boris Bikes": George of 'Two Wheels Good'
This area is right on the border of the current cycle hire area (some of it part of the mini western expansion to Westfield back in April). The 2013 expansion will, all being well, take in the rest of Kensington and Chelsea and push out to Hammemsith and Fulham. It is a beautiful part of London, and has some good streets for cycling. I have no doubt Boris bikes will prove popular in this part of west London.

K&C borough are currently consulting on increasing the permeability of more streets. Often it's as simple as adding an 'except cyclists' sign under an existing no entry sign. Bigger streets require a little more work, but it can be done. To maximise the benefits of cycle hire in K&C and elsewhere, this is an important development, allowing access to docks from both directions, and maximising the journeys which can be made by Boris bike, both in terms of shortening routes and avoiding busier roads.

It's easy to get your view to the borough, simply email [email protected]

Iconic west London: St George's on Campden Hill
You could suggest individual streets, but I suggested a bolder set of principles: all smaller streets to be two-way by use of the 'except cyclists' sign; an ongoing programme of opening up larger streets starting with those most used by cyclists; all roads containing docking stations to be earmarked for immediate two-way access.

The expansion of cycle hire in K&C and beyond is good news, but we need infrastructure on the streets to allow as many people as possible, both experienced and novice cyclists, to get the most out of it.

Boris Bikes grow up

The not-so-humble Boris bike is now just over two years old. It's come a long way - from an initial 300 or so docks to 568 today, taking in all of central London and a big patch of the east. Okay, so it never made the Olympics, but during our Jubilee/Olympic summer its useage has soared to around 40,000 trips per week, shared almost equally by members and casual users. And already plans are afoot for a western extension, also taking in some new areas south of the river. Long forgotten are the early teething problems - the largest problem now is that so many people use the bikes that docks are often either empty or full, particularly at commuter times. Communities like Brixton and Islington are clamouring for bikes in their areas. You can't spend long in central London without seeing a Boris bike, or even a family of them, gliding serenely past.

Boris bikes - agents of social change?
Boris bikes have changed the face of cycling in London. No special clothes or helmets are required; the bikes are reassuringly robust; even novices can have a try in the parks. With London's transport network struggling to take the strain, and with the urgent need to improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions, the Boris bike is a knight in shining armour. In bright blue hues it invites us: 'try me, you can cycle too'.

Cycling campaigners (and I am one) will tell you that to maximise the potential of cycling in London, we need more protected cycle lanes and road design which prioritises people on bikes or on foot ahead of cars and lorries. This is right. And where the Boris bike clinches the argument is that it shows ordinary Londoners, and our international visitors, do want to cycle in our beautiful city. Every extra Boris biker is one more reason for politicians to listen to those who want to cycle, or perhaps have taken their first step. Cycle hire is bringing us to a tipping point, where the major user of roads will no longer be the car, but the bicycle. It's an exciting prospect.

Recently I've read two excellent articles, one from the relatively new Two Wheels Good blog, which I recommend, and an older one the author has flagged up at Bike Biz. Both say similar things to what I'm trying to say here.

We have an interesting year ahead. Cycle hire is extending, and to keep working needs a quite aggressive intensification in the central area as well as new docks to the south and west. Boris has promsied the first Dutch-style projects for cyclists in London, and perhaps Dutch-style design will characterise the four new Superhighways opening in 2013. We need to keep up the pressure on our elected representatives, but there are reasons to be hopeful.