Thursday, 2 February 2012

Boris bikes: Ken speaks

With the mayoral election only months away, Ken Livingstone has spoken out on cycling as part of an interview with the Guardian. On cycling in London, he proposes bringing in the Green Party's Jenny Jones as a special advisor. This is good news - Jenny is someone who clearly 'gets' cycling in a way Boris never will. Ken also suggests Labour AM Val Shawcross will chair TfL, again great news as Val has a proven record on speaking in favour of safety for cyclists, and has also supporetd the Bikes2Brixton campaign.

Ken's comments on Boris bikes are interesting and could do with some clarification. His preferred scheme would have been to bring Paris's Velib scheme to London, and thinks the alternative operator Boris has worked with doesn't give value for money. Basically he wants Boris bikes, but cheaper ones, and possibly thinks the operator might bring the price down if threatened with losing the contract. Ken doesn't comment on Barclays sponsorship.

For me this raises two questions. If Ken becomes mayor, over 600 docking stations and 7000 bikes will already be on the streets: starting again won't really be an option, so how will he renegotiate a better value deal while maintaining the current system? Secondly, I personally think you get what you pay for, and the bikes and docks are quality products. And cost of course is relative, Boris bikes are a bargain compared to, say, Crossrail or the Thameslink upgrade. I'd personally like to challenge Ken to commit to keeping and expanding a high-quality scheme, even if he does renegotiate the price.

Possibly deserving its own thread, but I'll put it here for now, is the new 'Cities fit for cycling' campaign launched by the Times. This is a real landmark campaign - a major newspaper running a high profile campaign to get a better deal on the roads for cyclists. I suggest you sign up today, and write to your MP as the paper suggests - there's plenty more information on the Times website.

As E-day approaches (when the eastern extension will go live) there's more evidence of intensification in the central area. A new dock is under construction on King Edward Street in the City, close to the junction with Angel Street. At Holborn Circus a dock is going in at the top of Fetter Lane, close to the Sainsbury building. And as part of the Westfield extension, a dock is being built at the north end of Holland Road, west side. No news yet when E-day will be ...

1 comment:

  1. Personally I do think that some aspects could be done for less cost - the bikes are heavy beasts, with beastly pricetags (£900 each if I'm right). One move could be to drop the specification of the bikes whilst still building to the same shape as the existing ones to guarantee backwards compatibility. If they're lighter they'll be easier to ride, right?

    And changing the supplier from Serco could potentially realise savings - IMHO they have been less than excellent with regards customer service.