Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Go West - part 2

Last night I cycled the western extension with a friend from the Boris Bikes forum. And we took pictures!

Westfield Southern Terrace

Our starting point was Notting Hill Gate, recently expanded to take more bikes. The streets of Notting Hill are far from easy to navigate, but we passed the new Ladbroke Grove dock and made our way towards the shopping centre. Getting to Westfield on a bike isn't easy - a shared-use facility to help cross towards the Shepherds Bush tube is so cleverly disguised as a pavement, it's not very suitable for bikes. Eventually however we docked at Southern Terrrace. It's a sizeable dock (like all the docks at Westfield in fact) but it's not especially easy to find. Good for those who will use it regularly, but probably hard to locate for casual users and tourists. We then walked round the estate to locate the other docks.

Eastern Access Road -
where Boris bikes go to die?
Right at the back of the centre is the Eastern Access Road dock. Its unglamorous name says it all really. It's near a small industrial estate, not near any of the main entrances to the shops, and not a dock you would ever stumble over. Most of the bikes there look like they were put in last Thursday and haven't been used yet. I pity the Boris bikes which end up in this godforsaken location.

Much better are Ariel Way and, most glitzy of all, Library Corner, which is right by a main entrance to the complex. These docks will make far more sense once the western extension of the scheme comes to fruition in 2013 and can be approached from the west, rather than the current rather circuitous route from the east or south. A fifth dock which appears on the map, close to Ariel Way, has not yet been constructed.

Westfield glamour - Library Corner
There are a lot of cycle paths around Westfield itself, though they seem underused. Making Westfield a more cycle-friendly area would really involve sorting out better routes into and out of the complex. The addition of the cycle hire stations looks a bit too much like an afterthought, stuck in on the periphery.

Our western odyssey concluded with a trip back east out of Westfield, this time via an underpass, then a meander around the residential streets west of Holland Park. Finally we passed the new Russell Gardens dock and docked in Hansard Mews (one end of which is no entry - I look forward to the 'except cycles' sign being added).

Today Abbotsbury Road dock seems to be live on the map, so that's another for the western area, but as my earlier post suggested, there probaby aren't enough docks in this area yet. Also someone needs to sort out the cycling infrastructure in this part of London to make it more appealing to a wider cycling public. The one-way streets and speeding traffic are a barrier to all but the most experienced and determined Boris bikers.

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