Saturday, 25 February 2012

Camden loves Boris Bikes

On Friday I toured the new docks in Camden Town. I started by docking in Albany Street to the east of Regents Park, a dock of around 20 docking points. Chatted to an elderly Irish lady who used to be a cyclist there and explained how to use the bikes, hoping she'll get a key soon!

While Albany Street is okay, there aren't many docks connecting the existing zone to Camden Town. Outer Circle would be a perfect site for a big dock, but nothing yet.

I headed up to Camden Town and arrived at Gloucteser Avenue. A Serco guy was stripping the 'coming soon' sign from the dock. 'Can I dock?' I asked. 'Yeah, should be working,' he said, so my bike was the first to go in. Walked from there to Arlington Road, the dock is ready to go but not active yet. On to Hawley Crescent but no sign of a new dock there yet. Bikes were available on Bonny Street next to the Overground station, so I cycled down to Greenland Road, where the dock is under construction. Castlehaven Road was the one I missed out, but it's live on the map.

The really positive thing is the density of docks in Camden. And they're generally big docks. But navigating the busy one-way system isn't easy, and there aren't enough docks connecting this area to the King's Cross area to the south yet. More docks are definitely needed in Somerstown.

Saturday update - from a totally different area, but construction is underway to extend the dock at Queen Street in the City.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Three bits of news

I enjoyed the Flashride at Parliament yesterday, many thanks to the organisers, and let's hope the MPs listen during their debate today. Good number of Boris bikes in the ride, at one point there were six of us riding together.

Ken Livingstone's latest comment on Boris bikes proposes making them free for the elderly. I have no objection in principle but - BBs are very good value already so the OAPs wouldn't save much; how would the scheme be administered, it would be very expensive to upgrade the terminals to accept OAP freedom passes; what about other deserving groups, such as children or the unemployed? I think the idea needs more work. And the real issue for the mayoral election will be cycle safety, we can't put thousands of elderly Londoners onto streets which remain perilous even to experienced cyclists.

More and more docks are opening ahead of E-Day. Green Park Station and Wren Street are live today on the map, I think there are others too. And Camden Town now has docks not only on Parkway, but at Bonny Street and Castlehaven Road. I really ought to invest in a camera - this blog would look so much better with pictures!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Flashride to Parliament - 6.15pm, Wednesday 22 February

This Wednesday (which is Ash Wednesday) at 6.15pm cyclists are gathering on the Mall at the Duke of York steps, to ride to Parliament ahead of the parliamentary debate on cycle safety, sparked by the Times campaign.

Over the past few weeks MPs have been receiving letters from constituents asking them to make better safety for cyclists a priority. There have been too many cycling deaths, and I support this campaign because as Boris bikes roll out across London, bikers need to have the safety they deserve on our streets.

Do write to your MP if you haven't already. And, if you're free, please join the Flashride, on your Boris bike of course! See you there.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

LCC puts Boris bikes in the picture

I'm always thrilled when my copy of London Cyclist drops through my letterbox, but the latest issue is exceptional. Before going any further sign their Going Dutch petition to call for more safe routes for cyclists in London. Then read the excellent interview with Janette Sadik-Khan, transport commissioner in New York, which includes her plans for a 10,000 bike cycle hire scheme in the Big Apple (not sure it's online yet, maybe you should become a member to get the magazine?).

But perhaps best of all are LCC's proposals for what Dutch-style cycling might look like in London. Consider Parliament Square - a beautiful public square closed to traffic on two sides, with a new fountain and cycle lanes all round. And yes, at the centre of this scheme, a cycle hire dock! It makes sense of course - who needs to dock in parliament? - civil servants, tourists, MPs, Mr Cameron maybe. Seriously a lot of people, not all experienced cyclists, the ideal location for cycle hire. And then see the plan for the Olympic Park post-2012: Stratford High Street calmed with fewer traffic lanes and cycle lanes installed, and at the entrance to the park itself, a cycle hire station of course!

What LCC can see, and I wonder if Boris can't quite yet, is that cycle hire is socially inclusive in a way the traditional lycra-clad London cycling isn't. I'm not against that, but Boris bikes attract tourists, commuters, the curious, families, and more. They need the bikes in the right places, and they need cycle lanes which make them feel confident even if they're new to cycling. I for one give the thumbs up to LCC's plans.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

E-Day update

Yes, it's 8 March, according to TfL's press release, and reported by London 24 among others.

So a lot of work to get all those docks in within the next month! My guess is that, like the original scheme, not every dock will be in by 8 March and more will be constructed in the months to come. In the existing area, for example, intensification seems to be slow to get going.

So, look for me on 8 March cycling round the Isle of Dogs!

Thursday, 9 February 2012


We all know that the eastern extension is under construction. And we're wondering when it'll go live.

Talk on the Boris Bikes Forum is that the mayor's transport advisor Kulveer Ranger has tweeted that there will be an announcement tomorrow morning. Will it be 8 March as has been suggested? We'll know tomorrow I hope!

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 ...