Friday, 23 September 2011

More Boris bikes in south London

South London Press has reported that Lambeth council is pushing for Brixton and Clapham to be included in plans to extend the Boris bikes zone in 2013. If true, this could be great news for south Londoners, who currently are poorly served compared to their northern friends. Having just moved to Herne Hill, I'd love to see the bikes appearing all over Lambeth and Southwark in the next few years.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Around the Royal Parks on a Boris bike - part 2

In part 1 we looked at Green and St James's parks, so now let's take the shared cycle/pedestrian route through Wellington Arch and over to Hyde Park. This route is a great way to get to Hyde Park, but what it really needs is better marking. Especially when crossing into the park the faded green paint just isn't clear enough, and often crowds of pedestrians obstruct your route through, not realising it's a cycle lane.

Unlike the central parks I previously reviewed, cycle routes and provision of docking stations are good in Hyde Park. Since the start of the scheme I've noticed that, at weekends especially, Hyde Park is awash with blue bikes. Rotten Row, New Ride, West Carriage Drive, North Carriage Drive, the Broad Walk and Serpentine Road are all good cycle routes, and enable you to either circle the park or cross it without obstruction.

So what improvements could Hyde Park make? Provision of bikes will I think be the major issue, as, sadly, neither new docks nor extensions seem to be provided for in phase 2. The second issue, one which relates to the scheme as a whole, is the tortuous procedure for acquring a bike through casual use. Hyde Park is a tourist hotspot, so on a nice day queues form at the terminals for casual use. The current system is unclear and requires your payment card to be inserted twice if not more. If you are a frequent park visitor like me, you will no doubt have been called on many times to explain the system to confused tourists. The complexity of the system is a major barrier to better useage of the bikes, I hope it will be tackled.

Let's cross West Carriage Drive now into Kensington Gardens. The main cycling routes through Kensington Gardens are Albert Approach Road to the south, Mount Walk through the park, and the Broad Walk on the western edge past the palace. Mount Gate is currently being reworked to provide better access for cyclists and pedestrians. And a recent innovation is the new cycling route on the south side of the palace. But connectivity is the main problem in the Gardens, as you can't do a proper loop without being forced out onto busy main roads, Bayswater Road to the north or Kensington Gore to the south. Opening up North Walk for cycling should be a priority, at the moment another of those stern signs strictly warns you off.

One potentially very pleasant route to take right through the parks would be to undock at Black Lion Gate, go south on the Broad Walk, turn onto Mount Walk, cross West Carriage Drive onto Rotten Row, then head into Green Park through Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill and along the Mall in the direction of Admiralty Arch. I'm afraid you have to negotiate Trafalgar Square to find a docking station, please TfL/Serco, can we have a dock at St James's Park?

In part 3 we'll go north to the Regent's Park. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a Boris bike taking a break by the Serpentine.