Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Boris bikes - more to come

And the winner was ... Boris.

So the next 4 years will no doubt see further battles over road design and the totemic policy of 'smoothing traffic flow'; but on a brighter note, the Boris bike is here to stay, and by 2016 (and he apparently won't run for a third term) who knows how widespread they'll be? There are few details of the western extension yet, hopefully these will follow later this year.

Dock construction seems to be taking a pause. A new one has opened in John Islip Street, and Monument Street went live a couple of weeks ago, but I'm not aware of any others under construction which are not now open. It will be interesting to see how the scheme copes during the Olympic months. It's already quite worrying that on a fine evening, most of central London is empty of the bikes by mid-evening, making them useless for evening entertainment. Initially we were promised that more docks and a better understanding of the patterns of use would help Serco solve these problems. It seems the patterns of use are now well-established, and simply accepted.

A very interesting, and encouraging, article appeared recently in Bike Biz. It's an old argument that sheer volume of cyclists will help improve road safety because other vehicles can't help but take greater care. This seems to be happening now in some of the busiest areas of London, such as the City. There's a way to go though before this effect will calm some of our busier routes, and the removal of cycle lanes in favour of narrower streets (take St Paul's Churchyard as an example) can only increase the conflict between cyclists and other traffic.

Boris bikes are coming to New York too, in a scheme which will eclipse our own. 600 docking stations and 10,000 bikes should be in place by this summer, using the Bixi system, originally developed in Canada and used for our own beloved  Boris bikes. The prices are higher than London, but the omens look good for America's most ambitious bike hire scheme to date. Take a look at their website.