Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 - a new year of Boris biking

Boris biking is not sadly an Olympic sport. Nor indeed will Boris bikes be seen inside the Olympic park, of which Barclays is not a sponsor. But 2012 will be an exciting year for Boris bikers nonetheless.

I haven't updated the blog for a while, though it's been a time of consolidation rather than expansion for the scheme. A few docks (like Leman Street) have got bigger, the Exhibition Road docks are now active, and two new ones have sprung up on Red Lion Street and Grays Inn Road. Contributors to the Boris bikes forum have reported the foundations of docking stations as part of the phase 2 eastern extension being laid, and TfL's most recent press release celebrates the boost for Boris bikes with increased useage on Christmas Day, and the forthcoming extensions, not only to east London but also towards the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush. 2011's main achievement has to be the improved reliability of the technology, which may still not be 100 percent but is greatly improved over what it was at the turn of 2010/11.

There's no doubt that the big expansion in the spring, together with the return of longer days and warmer weather, will give the scheme a big boost. For me a big question is whether the docks are being placed in the best locations - there are still a lot of central London landmarks and transport interchanges without them (St James's Park and St Pancras Station to mention just two). 2012 will also be the year of the London mayoral election. There are huge questions hanging over Boris Johnson's handling of cycle safety and his seeming preference for traffic flow rather than making space for cycles and pedestrians. But does Ken (as probably the only other possible winner of the election) have the vision to do better?

I'm sad that the Queen has chosen to celebrate her Jubilee with a river procession rather than a Boris bike ride down the Mall, but that aside 2012 is an opportunity to show off London as a cycling city to the world. Let's try to grasp that opportunity.

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