Saturday, 28 January 2012

Bikes to Wandsworth

Plans are advancing for 80 new docking stations in Wandsworth borough, it is reported.

Meanwhile docks are springing up all over the place in Tower Hamlets ahead of a switch on of the eastern extension probably in March. Docking stations are also under construction westwards through Holland Park towards Westfield, and north into Camden Town. 'Intensification' of the central zone is also promised, but only a modest number of new docks have appeared so far: Oval, Crinan Street and Killick Street are already active, Red Lion Street, Kennington Station and Grays Inn Road are installed but not yet operational - I'd be interested to hear if any others are under construction.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Coming soon to Clapham Junction - Boris Bikes!

News from Wandsworth is that plans are underway for a docking station at Clapham Junction as part of the expansion into Wandsworth borough, expected by 2013. With a new dock planned for Parliament, and pressure on for expansion into Brixton and Highgate and Hampstead, it looks like the scheme is set to grow and grow.

I'm cycling up to Camden later today, where I believe the new Parkway dock is now in service.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Liberal Democrats: Boris bikes are failing Londoners

Caroline Pidgeon AM, writing for the Liberal Democrats in London, has highlighted a number of the unsatisfactory elements of the scheme, particularly problems with redistribution. There is certainly no 'coalition' on the London Assembly and Caroline has criticised the mayor several times over cycling, notably TfL's refusal to compromise on cycle safety for the new layout on Blackfriars Bridge.

I think her criticisms are largely fair with reference to bike redistribution and especially the tortuous process of casual use. Personally I think improvements to the system since the survey she cites was carried out have greatly improved the reliability of the bike keys. The most obviously missing criticism is to do with dock location - they are often built where boroughs allow them to be situated rather than where users actually want them.

A lot more could be said about this - but hats off to Westminster (for once!) who rejected recommendations and have given the go-ahead for a dock on Abingdon Street, close to the Houses of Parliament, contrary to my expectations.

There's a lot more Boris bike news at the moment, I assume because of the imminence of the Eastern Extension (to be switched on as a whole probably in March I am led to believe from a conversation with some TfL press people). Highlights include: calls for Boris bikes in Highgate and Hampstead; might a new docking station in Camden be unsafe; has the novelty of Boris bikes worn off.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Boris Bikes at Parliament

Another delay has been reported to plans for a docking station close to the Houses of Parliament.

There are notoriously few docking stations in this area, and shows how the planning procedure for docking stations is seriously compromised by the interference of council officials. Let's hope for pressure from MPs and peers for a change of heart.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Cycle safety in London

A recent article about cycle safety close to a new dock in King's Cross (Crinan Street) has got me thinking about cycle safety. I can't track down the article any longer, but it points out just how truly dreadful cycling infrastructure is around King's Cross. It was here of course that student Deep Lee was knocked from her bike and killed, which became the focus of a recent cyle protest.

TfL, it seems to me, are caught in a paradoxical position. They're investing a lot in Boris bikes, and expanding it across London starting soon with the eastern extension. But at the same time, as protests at Bow, King's Cross and Blackfriars show, there is still no political will to make streets safe for cyclists and pedestrians. The issues are well covered in some detail on the Cyclists in the City blog. The biggest barriers to cycling in London are safety fears, but TfL are doing too little to address the issue. How many more deaths will it take before someone wakes up to the idea that human lives are more important than squeezing as much traffic as possible through London's streets?

I got an email today from TfL telling me how I could stay safe on my bike. Some of the same points are reiterated in their most recent press release. I replied that TfL had to take seriously their responsibilities to make us safe - by lowering speed limits, providing separated cycle lanes, and by eliminating the clash between cycling space and car parking. It's not rocket science really.

Boris bikes will only ever really take over the streets of London when those same streets provide a calm and safe environment for people of all ages and abilities to cycle. I'd urge everyone who cares about cycling in London to let TfL know that.

UPDATE - the article about Crinan Street is here

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Bring the Bikes to Brixton

An online petition has been started to bring Boris bikes to Brixton (and across Lambeth borough generally). Do sign it - it rightly points out that the vast proportion of docking stations are north of the river.

Always on the lookout for new docks, the Red Lion Street and Grays Inn Road docks are there but not yet active, and also a new one is being installed next to King's Place in Crinan Street.

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.