Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Boris biking into 2014

As 2013 draws to a close we have news that more Boris bikes are on the way. Perhaps in 2014 we will find out where!

And in Ireland, Dublinbikes is growing.

The highlights and lowlights of 2013 in brief ...
  • January - hire fees double
  • Spring - plans advance for southwestern extension
  • May - Citibike launches in New York
  • July- flashride at Aldgate to protest at death of Boris biker Philippine de Gerin-Ricard
  • 30 July - Boris bikes celebrate third birthday
  • Summer - almost 1,000,000 trips each month, though down on Olympic year
  • Autumn - installation of new docking stations
  • December - Barclays announce end of sponsorship deal from 2015
  • 13 December - southwestern extension launched, 722 docking stations now live across London
Happy New Year to you all.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Happy Christmas

Careful on your Boris bikes this week because of the storms, but have a very happy and peaceful Christmas. This is one of the Mayor's old Christmas card designs, showing the wise men on Boris bikes journeying to Bethlehem, so I've recycled it as my own this year.

Three Kings on Boris Bikes by Ellie Feldman

Boris bikes in the snow

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Southwest and Beyond

So the big day came and went, without much fanfare. It's interesting to speculate as to why TfL decided to launch this extension at the darkest and bleakest time of the year - almost every day since the launch has seen rain, hardly conducive to cycling, especially the sorts who use Boris bikes. Maybe they want a gentle beginning to the extension.

Comment on the end of the Barclays sponsorship rumbles on. My own view is at the end of this post.

And dock availability is still an issue.

There is interesting news from further afield - Boris bikes have made it to Mont Ventoux and to Gambia. Impressive. Will they make it to Southwark borough anytime soon I wonder?

I posted this about Boris biking in K&C, with a few additions by my TwoWheelsGood friend.

My letter to the Standard about Barclays wasn't published, but here it is if you're interested:

Few will lament the end of the association of Barclays with the Mayor's cycle hire scheme. Despite the promise of £50m sponsorship, barely half of that has emerged. Barclays logos have been lavishly splashed across London's streets, while the bill for installing the 'Boris bikes' has in fact been left to councils, and users who have seen fares double in the past year.

If we are to learn from the mistakes of the past we must ditch the idea that essential public transport options, which cycle hire is, should be paid for by private sponsorship. We don't have the 'Lloyds Underground' or 'Virgin DLR' for good reasons. If cycle hire is worth investing in (which I believe it is) it should be funded centrally from TfL's budget, and, crucially, integrated with other transport options. In the short term this may mean Londoners pay more for the bikes, but with the result that London gains a city-wide affordable cycle scheme giving all of us the chance to travel sustainably and healthily, and, dare I say, with a bit more fun that a crowded train carriage.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Southwestern Extension - what will be new tomorrow?

I thought it would be worth posting some information about the new docking stations which will be going live - many tomorrow, the rest by Spring 2014 (so TfL promise).

Hammersmith and Fulham have published this list.

Wandsworth have this information available.

Lambeth don't unfortunately seem to have any updated information online.

TfL have published this map showing the expanded scheme in its entirety.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

And a few more ...

This evening 604 docking stations are live. New ones today include:
  • Hawley Crescent (Camden)
  • Hertford Road (Hackney)
  • Carnegie Street (King's Cross)
So most docking stations other than the major expansion zone (Wandsworth, H&F, part of Lambeth) are now open, though look out for a handful of further new ones in K&C.

The main news story is the end of Barclays sponsorship. Here is the Standard's article.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

More new docks as Southwestern Extension draws near

Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth, are ready for the launch of around 150 new docking stations on Friday.

In the meantime we welcome St Bride Street (City of London), All Saints Church (K&C), and Duke Street Hill (Southwark) to the family. This evening there are 598 live docking stations across London.

In other news, Barclays will not be sponsoring the bikes beyond 2015. Considering the controversy of the sponsorship deal, this is probably for the best, though it will be interesting to see whether a new sponsor takes over, and what the bikes will look like in the post-Barclays era.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Boris bikes rolling out in Hackney

The first new docking stations have gone online in Hackney. I had a lovely cycle around them this afternoon - they should be popular as they are in busy areas, are convenient for commuting into central London, and build on Hackney's reputation as a leading cycling borough.

The new ones so far are:
  • Dunston Road
  • Belford House
  • Shoreditch Court
  • Ada Street
  • Victoria Park Road
And only 5 days to go until the 13 December official launch of the southwestern extension.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

New docking stations - Update

Ahead of the 13 December expansion into southwest London, several more stations have gone live:

Tower Hamlets
  • Cadogan Close, Victoria Park
  • Wendon Street, Old Ford
  • Islington Green, Angel
  • Charlotte Terrace, Angel
  • Snowsfields, London Bridge
Kensington and Chelsea
  • World's End Place, West Chelsea
  • Archbishop's Park
  • Belvedere Road (extended)
150 new stations are set to go live on 13 December, mainly in Wandsworth and Hammersmith and Fulham. We are also waiting for a number in Hackney to extend the scheme north of the canal, and a few extras in Lambeth.

The expansion comes as hires continue to fall in the existing zone. Bike availability and safety fears seem to be the main factors.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Friday the Thirteenth

Artwork on display at Central St Martins
On Friday 13 December about 150 new docking stations will go live across Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, and Lambeth. Plus a few others in the existing area. Many new stations have already gone live in Kensington and Chelsea (among the latest are Phene Street, Clarendon Road, Lansdowne Road and St Mark's Road).

This is the most exciting expansion of the Boris bike scheme since the eastern extension in April 2012. It will make the London scheme one of the biggest in the world.

Serious questions are currently being asked about cycle safety in London. For the potential of these new bikes to be realised, much more needs to be done in providing space for cycling in London. But on Friday 13th, thousands more Londoners will have access to a cheap, healthy and convenient transport option. I hope many more will switch to cycling as a result.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

More new docks go live in Kensington and Chelsea

K&C is the place to live if you're a Boris biker it seems. Addison Road and Princedale Road went online in September.

From this weekend you can dock in:

Danvers Street (on the riverside a little east of Battersea Bridge)
Thorndike Close (just off Finborough Road)
Evesham Street (n the very north-west of the borough)
All Saints Road (Portobello, just south of Westway)

We look forward to more soon.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Better Boris biking

City University students have presented their findings on improving Boris bikes, including integration with Oyster, upgraded docking stations, and better access to information. The article is worth reading, though several of the recommendations sound expensive. Vending machines for bike equipment sound positively impractical.

Last week we had the news that Boris bikes would be 'going electric', though the truth is not quite what the headline indicates. This would be a separate system for hiring electric bikes in north London, which would not be integrated with Barclays cycle hire. I wish the scheme good luck, as long as it doesn't draw funding away from the improvements and extensions which the Boris bike scheme still needs.

The extended Superhighway 2 has opened, prompting a flurry of new policy announcements from the Mayor. However, there are no docking stations along the new segregated section. A glimmer of light is that Boris has promised the existing section from Aldgate to Bow (where there is no shortage of Boris bikes) will be upgraded with better junctions and more segregation.

And back to the southwest extension, the first 14 docking stations in Hammersmith and Fulham are ready to go in December, it is reported.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Around the boroughs - Wandsworth

Story so far: Wandsworth is a blank canvass, having not been a location in the initial phase or the 2012 extension

Coming soon: 60 docking stations will cover the northern parts of the borough, extending the scheme out from Vauxhall in the east as far as Putney in the west. Highlights will include Battersea Power Station and Battersea Park. The largest dock will be at Clapham Junction. The Council has details of all the new docking stations on its website. Due to the expansion north of the river it will be possible to cross Chelsea, Prince Albert, Wandsworth and Putney bridges and find docks on the other shore. Wandsworth does not have fantastic streets for cycling (the south circular for example is pretty scary for anyone on a bike) but hopefully the arrival of Boris bikes will spur the development of new, safer routes.

The future? Cycle hire could be extended into the south of the borough in due course, and the major redevelopment of the Nine Elms area is an opportunity to develop high quality cycling facilities which link in with the extension of the Northern Line.

Boris rating: 5

Monday, 21 October 2013

Around the boroughs - Tower Hamlets

Isle of Docks - Boris bikes in Tower Hamlets
In April 2012 cycle hire went live across the whole borough of Tower Hamlets in the first major extension of the Boris bike scheme. Tower Hamlets is a borough of great contrasts, with huge diversity, areas of poverty, and of course the headquarters of Barclays, the main sponsors of the bikes.

Story so far: At launch only the western margins of the borough had docks, such as at Wapping High Street and Leman Street. Quickly it was announced that the first extension would cover the whole borough, including the affluent Canary Wharf area, home of Barclays. With two superhighways (2 and 3) in the borough, you might have thought it a recipe for success, but CS2 in particular has been widely criticised, and cycling infrastructure in the borough isn't quite as good as it could be. There are also notable gaps - why no docks in riverside Limehouse, or on Westferry Road? The closeness of the bikes to Greenwich have led to some interesting excursions, but it will be a long time before we see docks on that side of the river.

Olympic glory - new dock coming to Old Ford Road
Coming soon: Tower Hamlets is more or less a done deal, though I know of one new station at the eastern end of Old Ford Road, close to the Olympic Park, which has also raised objections from locals. News of others would be welcome!

The future? A real opportunity for Tower Hamlets would arise if the bikes are extended to the Olympic Park. It would also be great if some of the gaps in the borough could be closed. Extension of the bikes north of Victoria Park could in future help the cycling culture there, and more docks are definitely needed at the western end of CS3.

Boris rating: 6

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Around the boroughs - Islington

Transport of angels - bikes on Liverpool Road
And so to leafy Islington, London's first 20mph borough.

Story so far: The south of Islington has had docking stations since the scheme's launch, and there are plenty places to dock in Angel, Clerkenwell, St Luke's and Finsbury. Cycling facilities are better than many boroughs, particularly as Islington has a 20mph speed limit on its borough roads.

Coming soon: 4 new docking stations will be constructed along the northern edge of the current scheme, the majority close to Caledonian Road. On the Barnsbury Estate a docking station on Carnegie Street will have about 40 docking points, and another is situated nearby on Charlotte Terrace. These are close, but perhaps not quite close enough, to help with the paucity of docks close to King's Cross station. The most exciting new station is on Islington Green, ideally positioned for shops, cafes and restaurants.

Green revolution - docks coming soon to Islington Green
The future? As in Hackney, the expansion of the scheme in Islington is modest, and there are no published plans for further expansion. It would be good to see the scheme pushing northwards in the future into Barnsbury, Islington, along Essex Road, perhaps as far as Highbury and Islington tube station, an important transport interchange. Further attention does need to be given to King's Cross, on the border with Camden borough, where provision is poor.

Boris rating: 5

Friday, 11 October 2013

Loving Boris bikes on Twitter

You can now follow the blog and other relevant cycling and cycle hire news on Twitter @iloveborisbikes

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Around the boroughs - Hackney

Cycle culture: bikes on Pitfield Street
Hackney is famous for, among other things, being London's most cycle-friendly borough. A greater percentage of journeys is made by bike here than in any other London borough. But what about the Boris bikes?

Story so far: There has been cycle hire in Hackney since the launch of the scheme, initially docks were clustered close to the City in Shoreditch and its environs. The eastern extension of 2012 saw the bikes move into Hoxton and Haggerston.

Coming soon: I am grateful to the Suprageography blog for mapping the docking stations to be built on the northern edge of the
Dunston Street: signs of the future
scheme. A trip up north yesterday revealed a number of these stations are now under construction, so ten or possibly more new ones should appear in Hackney, centred on Haggerston north of the Regent's Canal, adding to the borough's bustling cycle culture. Not only will commuters benefit, there are docks situated canalside and close to Broadway Market for those looking for a leisure ride. I expect these docks to be popular, as Hackney has good cycle routes and a safer feel for the less-experienced cyclist.

The Future? Hackney is a large borough and only about a quarter of it will be home to Boris bikes, even after the expansion. I know of no future plans for enlargement in the borough but the cycling culture and a bike-friendly administration could one day see bikes moving further north into Dalston and Stoke Newington and east into Hackney Central and the area north of Victoria Park.

Boris rating: 6

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Around the boroughs - Kensington and Chelsea

Story so far: K&C was included in the first phase of cycle hire and marked the western boundary of the scheme. New docks were added when Exhibition Road was repaved, and the 'eastern' extension of the scheme also included docks into the Westfield shopping centre, plus a scattering of stations to connect this to the existing zone. This left the borough essentially split, with no docks in the North Kensington area, or south towards the river.

Royal Borough: new riverside docks at Danvers Street
Coming soon: This year's expansion will make Boris bikes available across the borough, with bikes being added in the north and south, and additional docking stations being installed in the Holland Park area to intensify provision there. A provisional map is available here, though not all these stations have achieved planning permission. By my count, K&C will gain 31 docking stations in total.

The future? K&C is not known for being a bike-friendly borough (as a local councillor admitted to me recently). It has poor cycle routes, no plans for reductions in speed limits, and is generally dominated by motor traffic. Soon the borough will have an abundance of hire bikes, can it develop the infrastructure to enable their safe use by a wide diversity of users?

Boris rating: 6

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Around the boroughs - Southwark

In the next two weeks I'm going to review all the boroughs which are currently, or soon to be, involved with the cycle hire scheme. I'll be asking what's there, what's coming, and what's still needed.

There's no particular order, so today I'm starting with Southwark.

Story so far: of all the central London boroughs this has the least docking stations, and most are in the Borough/ Elephant/Bermondsey area. All are popular docks, Hop Exchange probably being the busiest owing to its location close to London Bridge station. Curlew Street in Shad Thames is the easternmost station south of the river.

Southwark site: new docks will soon be here on Snowfields
Coming soon: intensification in the current expansion is limited to 3 docking stations close to London Bridge. These are much needed. Wansey Street has been closed for several months due to the fire at the Cuming Museum, hopefully this too will reopen.

The future? Southwark is the ideal borough for future expansion. It is central, relatively flat, and has potentially good cycling routes. Peckham, Rotherhithe and Camberwell would all be popular for Boris bike locations in my opinion. Docking stations could be added along superhighways 5 and 7.

Boris rating (out of 10): 4

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

St Martin's Close leads the way

Brand spanking new - St Martin's Close
The new phase of expansion is underway at last. Without fanfare, a new docking station opened at St Martin's Close on Camden Street, an excellent location entering Camden Town from the south. A few hours later Addison Road (see previous post) in Holland Park opened. Others are sure to follow - I saw Serco engineers testing bikes at Princedale Road this afternoon.

Up in Camden, another dock is in preparation in Hawley Crescent. I think this one is less well situated as it's a bit hidden away, but all extra capacity is welcome.

Coming soon - Hawley Crescent
My email to the cycle hire people about the launch date for the extended scheme was met with the rather curt reply 'December'. I expect the main zones of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth, will go live then. In the lead up to that, keep watching for new docking stations within the existing zone opening up. Newton Street for example, in Westminster, is also under construction.

It's an exciting time. Please add a comment if you have further news on new stations - I am especially ignorant of what's going on in the north and east of the area currently covered by the scheme.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

New docking stations taking shape

26 docking points recently installed on Addison Rd
I took this remarkable picture yesterday morning on Addison Road outside Cardinal Vaughan School (just off Holland Park Avenue), showing one of the new docking stations fully installed and ready for operation. Nearby the groundwork is complete on Holland Park Avenue near Princedale Road and workers are also busy installing docks right outside Holland Park tube station. For this part of London, currently right on the edge of the scheme, this marks significant intensification, and further docks are also being installed across an extended zone reaching west into Hammersmith and Fulham and northwards across more of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

And there is news of yet more docking stations being approved, after a dispute over planning.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

City of London - Update

Docks coming soon - St Bride Street
Just occasionally one has too much time to spare and you unearth an interesting document on the internet. This happened to me today when I discovered the City of London's most recent council document on cycle hire.

The document recommends that as part of the current expansion of the scheme, four previously agreed docking stations should be installed. It also mentions a possible dock on Upper Thames Street, which is part of TfL's route network.

It's getting better - Bouverie Street
I had a cycle round these streets today. St Bride Street is under construction, and an area of Bouverie Street has been fenced off for an extension. John Carpenter Street has major building works, so nothing here at the moment, and Houndsditch also has work going on - though this would be an excellent new dock so I hope it does appear. Nothing yet on Upper Thames Street either.

The report acknowledges that demand outstrips supply in the Square Mile. I look forward to the new docks, and also hope that this won't be the end of expansion in the City.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

I love Citi Bikes

Citi Bikes are the New York version of Boris bikes. They are built on the same technology. And they have just celebrated their first 100 days in action.

6,000 bikes are available at about 330 docking stations, at this stage a little smaller than our scheme here in London. But expansion is planned.

Hire bikes in New York - look familiar?
The scheme has already been hailed a success. The pricing structure makes annual membership far more cost-effective than in London, so there is more incentive to become a member and use the bikes often. And if you want proof of their appeal, just look at the stats. With many days way beyond 30,000 journeys and some over 40k, the daily hire per bike is higher than in London.

Why this runaway success? Better bike lanes in New York? Less people with their own bike so needing to hire one? Probably both true. But also I think the Citi Bike people are more engaged and proactive in marketing than TfL have been. The scheme has its own dedicated website - Boris bikes just get a small corner of the TfL one. The scheme even has its own official blog. Impressive. Then there are member meetings and bike classes. The scheme is already harnessing the user community to spread its success, and actively encouraging new riders to join.

TfL should take note. As phase 3, the southwestern extension, gets ever nearer, could more be done to build a committed community of Boris bikers to rival our Citi biking friends over the pond, and spread the love of Boris bikes to even more Londoners?

UPDATE - another good article analysing the Citi Bike scheme and its early success

Monday, 9 September 2013

Changes coming this weekend

Casual users will be unable to access Boris bikes for around 24 hours this weekend (14/15 Sep) due to upgrade work to terminals. Annual members will be unaffected.

Terminals will be upgraded this weekend
The software upgrade comes ahead of the scheme's expansion later this year. There will be a number of benefits, including the ability for one person to have multiple keys with different access options, enabling annual members for example to have extra keys available to lend to friends and family when they visit or want to cycle together. In addition, casual use will be made easier, cutting out the irritation of inserting the payment card multiple times.

These changes are in response to customer feedback, and hopefully the short interruption to the service will pave the way for an improved hire experience.

Here is TfL's press release on the changes.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Space for Boris biking

Yesterday evening 5,000 cyclists took to the streets of London in London Cycling Campaign's 'Space for Cycling' ride. The protest ride passed the Houses of Parliament where MPs were debating the Get Britain Cycling report.

Boris bikers support 'Space for Cycling' ride
The ride is the latest in a series designed to highlight the need for more dedicated space for cycling on Britain's roads, to improve safety and encourage more people to switch to two wheels.

Many Boris bikers took part in the event. Of all London's cyclists, those who take to Boris bikes are often novices or less experienced. The cycle hire scheme deliberately encourages new cyclists and casual users. Helmets are, quite rightly, not compulsory.

If we want streets where all cyclists are safe, including children and the elderly, then we need streets with facilities to protect us from fast-moving motor traffic and HGVs. Government spending on cycling remains pitiful compared to other European countries, despite the huge benefits in improving air quality, health and tackling congestion.

I hope this ride has helped our parliamentary representatives understand that to really Get Britain Cycling we need political will and investment.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Superdock for Clapham Junction?

Facing its Waterloo? Docks going in on Grant Road
As part of the southwestern extension of the bikes this autumn/winter, a new docking station is under construction on Grant Road, one of the two exits from Clapham Junction rail station. And it's huge. About 80 docking plates are already in the road surface, and contractors are continuing along the road installing more. Assuming all are put into use there will be space for almost 150 bikes, a bigger station than Waterloo. Good move? On the whole yes, it will catch commuters coming through Clapham who might work with a 30-minute cycle of the station, just as the Waterloo station has been immensely popular in providing onward journeys from that station. Grant Road is also fairly quiet, so it's a good location to site the station.

Nearly 150 docking points coming to Clapham
Two caveats come to my mind however. Firstly, the dock is nowhere near as close to Clapham Junction as the Waterloo equivalent. On exiting onto Grant Road you can see buses and taxis, but the docks will be a couple of minutes walk to the left. In addition, the main exit from the station is actually at the other end, onto St John's Hill. It's not at all evident to me whether any docks will be put in on that side.

Nonetheless it is a bold decision to create this superdock, and when it opens we'll get a sense of how well it works. A major problem with many of the existing docks is that they are too small and difficult to manage well. It's great to see some lessons being learned in the new generation of docking stations.

Also in the news ...

Are Boris bikes coming to East Grinstead? Well, this article says they might be, though no timetable has been set. What isn't clear is that 'Boris bikes' is now a shorthand for any bike hire scheme. Like these articles about Birmingham and Southend. So let's find out a bit more before I head off on my bike to East Grinstead looking for the docking station!

Will Boris bikes endanger the residents of the Ashmole Estate in Oval? Shades of Lavender Gardens here - I shan't say more.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Boris bikes - keeping the wheels turning

As I am writing this, I can hear a radio advert for cycle hire in the background. There are new ads around the streets, and even a new video. Oh, and Manchester wants them too.

A Boris biker enjoys the Freecycle in London
New figures from TfL show that almost a million journeys were made by Boris bike in July, and last week's Freecycle was the perfect showcase for thousands of the beautiful blue bikes to take to London's streets. And all over south and west London the newest docking stations are being installed.

So I was surprised to read the rather downbeat assessment of the bikes by Andrew Neather in the Standard, a paper which has in recent months given great encouragement to London cyclists. On striking workers, the farcical Barclays sponsorship deal, and continuing problems with redistribution he is of course spot on. And I have always believed cycle hire needed to be introduced as part of an integrated cycling policy which would put safety as a top priority. Nevertheless, my own view is that Boris bikes have been a great success in getting Londoners onto bikes who would never otherwise have found the means. For many of us, with cramped urban homes, we have no space for our own bikes, and the Boris bike is the perfect easy pick-up and ride. Someone else even does the work if you get a puncture or a broken gear!

At £90 for annual membership, 25p per day is still superb value despite the price rises this year (essential I think to boost revenue). With over 100 new docking stations opening later in the year, membership will also take you further across London. At last we will start to leave behind the main initial problem with the scheme - that it was too timid in its ambition. I hope that further expansion will follow.

If I could wish for one further things from TfL and Serco with regards to the bikes, it would be for greater engagement with users. As the writer of this blog, I find it frustrating how little information is shared by the operators about new developments and future plans. Harnessing the enthusiasm and passion of users will pay back in continued use of the bikes, and new members joining through personal recommendation.

I hope Andrew Neather keeps faith with the humble Boris bike, despite its flaws.

And a final note on docking stations - Queen Street is now back to full operation after the interminable building works which had closed half of it. The much-missed Wansey Street dock remains closed due to the works to secure the Cuming Museum after the fire. It is due back soon though.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Boris bike on show at Museum of London

The Museum of London currently has a foyer exhibition on cycling in London, featuring photography, various bikes through the ages, plus a Boris bike which the Museum has acquired for its collections, and graphics of journeys made by cycle hire. If you're in the area, take a look.

It's been a very successful RideLondon weekend, I rode the Freecycle course on Saturday morning on a Boris bike, and there were plenty in evidence all day. Possibly a new daily record for cycle hires?

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Where next for the bikes?

An article which I did not read at the time discusses the reasons behind the uneven coverage of cycle hire docks in central London and its surrounds.

As docking stations are installed in the latest wave of expansion (partly paid for by the Councils, as the article notes) it is worth asking where future expansion should be planned.

The most obvious central London borough needing docks is Southwark. There are a handful in Bermondsey and Elephant, a couple on the northerly borders of Walworth (Wansey Street is currently closed after the Cuming Museum fire), and a few around Borough and London Bridge. In the current expansion, only three new docking stations will be built in Southwark, to serve the busy London Bridge area. As there is poor rail and tube provision, the best candidates for Boris bikes are probably Camberwell and Dulwich to the south and expanding east through Bermondsey into Rotherhithe and the Surrey Quays to the east. Peckham could also be included. These areas are not too hilly, and adjacent to the current central zone. In neighbouring Lambeth, bikes in Brixton and Loughborough Junction would complement this expansion, possibly as far as King's Hospital Campus on the southern slopes of Denmark Hill. It's not as far-fetched as it may sound, Southwark are already looking into it. However, with fears over funding (the bikes are not, it is often pointed out, self-funding as hoped) such an expansion might be wishful thinking.

If we refer to the Mayor's Vision for Cycling the plans for cycle hire are surprisingly unambitious. p26 mentions a superhub at an unspecified rail station, and expanded docking stations along cycle routes. What this document seems to hint at is that bikes need to be placed where they are going to be used. It is quite obvious that some of the docking stations currently installed, such as in the darkest corners of the Westfield shopping centre, or busy and inaccessible areas in the east of Tower Hamlets, are not the best use of money. A more intense presence of bikes in the central areas (close to stations, in the parks, and along superhighways and the future quietways) surely makes sense.

Another area mooted for expansion is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Frankly, it was daft not to put in bikes there for the Olympics, as it made the expansion out into Tower Hamlets rather pointless. Future expansion into this area I think will depend on the success of the extended CS2 route, and an urgently needed upgrade of the existing section of CS2 so that Boris bikers can safely move between the Park and central London. Considering the limits on funding, perhaps other areas should have a higher priority.

On a recent trip to Paris I was impressed by the Velib scheme. It is large, covering the whole city, docks are easy to find, numerous and large. Simply counting bikes by eye, it is better used than our own facilities. To rival its success, we need more ambition for our Boris bikes, with a co-ordinated approach which puts bikes where they're needed, and can be used with safety.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Happy Birthday Boris Bikes!

Cycle hire in London is three years old. Seems strange to imagine the Capital without them now, so common a sight are they on our streets.

Here's some news on how the bikes are used, including the disparities between docking stations.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Aldgate Flashride Update

1,500 cyclists took to the streets in a respectful protest on Friday evening in memory of Philippine de Gerin-Ricard, killed on CS2 close to Aldgate. I attended along with several other Boris bikers. Philippine was using a hire cycle at the time of her death.

London's streets must be made safer for all cyclists, from the fastest and most experienced to those who are just taking to two wheels. We must emulate Holland and other countries where cycling is a safe activity for the majority. I join with others in asking the Mayor to make sure CS2 and other superhighways are upgraded to the safest standards so that there will be no other needless casualties on London's roads.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Friday Flashride - Boris biking should be safe

We note with sadness the death of Philippine De Gerin-Ricard, a French student aged 20 who died in a collision with an HGV close to Aldgate on 'Superhighway' 2. She was a regular Boris biker. This stretch of superhighway has been widely criticised for mixing cyclists with aggressive motor traffic, the only evidence of any 'superness' being some blue paint on the road.

This Friday LCC have organised a flashride from Tower Hill to Aldgate, starting at 6.15pm. I will be there. The ride will pause at the site of Philippine's death as a mark of respect. TfL and the Mayor must hear our plea that no more casualties on London's roads should be allowed by a failure to tackle the conflict on our streets. CS2 should be totally overhauled to separate traffic from cycles, upgrading the design to the far better solutions proposed in Stratford for the extension of this same highway. And the City of London needs better plans to keep cyclists safe in Aldgate, where the removal of the gyratory gives an opportunity to change the culture in this area into one where urban space is calmed by being made available to pedestrians and cycles, rather than cars. The current proposals do not go far enough. Please join me on Friday.

In other news ...

Boris bikes are costing taxpayers money. Not a new story but one which will increase pressure for a better sponsorship deal than the one with Barclays. I agree with Jenny Jones, that in its current shape the scheme is not ambitious enough to encourage the levels of cycling needed to make it sustainable.

And if you live in Wandsworth, all the sites are now confirmed for the extension this autumn/winter.

Some of the new docks are starting to go in at last. I've personally seen a site marked off on Holland Park Avenue, and installation is underway at Archbishops Park. News of more sightings would be welcome!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Boris bikes to get eco-helmets?

Here's an article to reignite the timeless 'helmet or not' debate. Personally I think the focus should be on making road conditions safe enough not to need helmets (as is the case in Holland and many other European countries) but it's an innovative idea for sure, and if it helps some people get on a Boris bike who otherwise wouldn't, it's pretty worthwhile.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

New docks for London Bridge area

Southwark Council has approved three new docking stations. Of particular interest is the Tooley Street site - being so close to the station it will be very busy I imagine.

The BBC has done an interesting report on how the cycle hire scheme is performing. The new redistribution scheme I reported on a couple of days ago may have an impact on future usage, as obviously will these new docks.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Redistribution Promises

I have just returned from Paris, where the Velib rules the city's streets. Paris is a fascinating case study to compare to London - the streets are wider and have more cycle lanes, but there is still a real problem with congestion and intimidating vehicular traffic. On my short trip I noticed a lot of Velib traffic, though less people using their own bikes. Paris, like London, is making a start but has yet to embrace the bicycle fully.

So back to London, where we are now assured a new contract means we will see better bike availability for us all. It's certainly a step forward. But note Bob Crow's comment: 'If it is not to become an embarrassment to the Mayor, the Boris bike scheme needs more docking stations, more bikes and crucially more and better paid staff'. Mr Crow has a point; the success of the scheme means central London in particular needs more bikes and more people to help manage them. In central Paris the docking stations come thick and fast - compare to London where major destinations such as St James's Park are devoid of docks, and rail stations struggle to meet demand.

In his latest transport vision, the Mayor sees cycle hire as the norm rather than the exception (p38). But the Mayor issues a lot of visions - we need to see a few turned into reality. There is a lot of work still to do. But the direction of travel is encouraging.

In other news ... controversy over the siting of a docking station in Hammersmith and Fulham. We've seen this before of course. For what it's worth, I agree with Mr Aldworth.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Boris Bikes hit the streets in New York

Citibike, the New York version of Barclays Cycle Hire, has launched for members. With 6,000 bikes at over 300 stations, it's the biggest bike sharing system in the US so far, not quite as big as the London scheme yet, but it's only the first week, and it aims to grow. The bikes are differently branded, but are, to all intents, Boris bikes with an American flavour.

Here's the Standard's report, and one from the Huffington Post.

Despite the 'nimby's, cycle hire is here to stay, launching in New York, growing in London, and a feature of many other big cities. I'll be keeping a close eye on how the New York system is received in the coming weeks.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Can't stop the Bikes

Good news coming from Kenisngton and Chelsea, where planning for the new Boris Bike docks is at an advanced stage.

The crucial decision over Lavender Gardens in Wandsworth borough is due next week.

And though this blog was set up to comment exclusively on cycle hire issues, I would draw your attention to the work a number of us have been engaged with in the Regent Street / Haymarket area. This part of town is quite dense with docking stations, yet a nightmare of conflict between traffic and cyclists. Let's hope for a resolution which benefits us all.

And maybe Westminster are eventually seeing the light on cycling. This article in the Evening Standard suggests they are starting to take safety seriously.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Planning for new docks nearing completion

The Standard is running a quite silly article today.

The impression seems to be that hires are in decline, but if we look towards the end of the article, we notice that hires in the first two months of the year are up. And do you remember last March? It was the summer we never had, beautiful weather until the skies opened in April and, with a brief Olympic respite, continued all year. The contrast with freezing March 2013 couldn't be greater.

Over in the Times Matthew Parris has apparently complained he can't find anywhere to dock. I haven't read the article (I don't pay for the Times online) but is the fact that there are tidal flows of bikes during the day really big news? Sure we need more docks and better redistribution, but it was ever thus.

Another fun bit of news was that we might get bonuses for returning our bikes to an empty docking station. 'No immediate plans' is perhaps the take-home message of this article.

There is more concrete news though from the boroughs, where the long and largely unseen process of selecting and approving sites for new docking stations is underway for the southwesterly extension.

In Kensington and Chelsea, by my count 29 docking stations have been approved, with only 4 refused. In Wandsworth 57 have been approved, with only a few remaining to be determined, the most controversial being Lavender Gardens, on which my last post commented. Lambeth have approved most of their latest applications, 19 accepted, 1 refused. The loss of the site on Exton Street is regrettable, as the area around Waterloo is desperate for new docks. In Hammersmith and Fulham, 59 sites have approval, 3 were refused, and 27 are still pending.

It is disappointing that whereas the eastern extension also featured 'intensification' in the central area, this does not seem to be a feature this time. There are no new applications for sites in Westminster and the City.

Within a year all these new stations should be up and running. I imagine March 2014 will see quite a bounce back in hires from those the Standard reports today.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Boris bikes and bad journalism

Thank goodness few people read the Wandsworth Guardian, because it contains one of the worst pieces of journalism I have ever read. It pains me to give it more coverage than it's due, but here it is.
Boris bikes - a threat to children and blind people? Unlikely

Once you've got over that shock, a few points are worth making. Firstly, at the end of the article Nick Aldworth explains why the power supply has been put in early, and makes it clear that it will be removed if planning consent is not given. The rest of the article is mainly scaremongering. What possible danger can sedately-paced Boris bikes pose to a nursery school, or for that matter, to a blind person? Far less than motor vehicles I can assure you. The loss of six parking spaces is nothing compared to the multiple journeys which will be possible into and out of the area by hire bike. As for the Shrubbery's 'Tudor foundations', has no-one noticed cars have been parking outside it for years? Let me be clear - cars clutter our streets, pollute, and are potentially dangerous. Bikes are smaller, emission free, and safe. My hope for Lavender Gardens is that it will be transformed from a busy motor thoroughfare into a haven for pedestrians and cyclists.

We need a shift in perceptions. One of the reasons given for rejecting a docking station on the Mall was conservation. Yet that street is a busy dual carriageway, with a car/coach park down one side. I hope Wandsworth, and other councils, will see through this sort of nonsense and embrace cycling as a safe, clean and healthy mode of urban transport fit for our future. I look forward to docking in Lavender Gardens soon.

Monday, 8 April 2013

New docks in Kensington and Chelsea

The Royal Borough has kindly sent me this map of potential new docking stations in the borough. Some have already been determined, 11 are currently in process. Note they fall in two clusters, to the northwest and southwest, filling in those parts of K&C not already covered by the scheme.

New docks for Kensington and Chelsea. To view the image in greater detail right click on the picture and click 'Open Link in New Tab'

Together with the map of docks in H&F and the list of sites in Wandsworth (see earlier posts) we are starting to get some clear picture of how the new zones will look.

The proposals for K&C look good, but only if they get permission for all the sites. There is still time to submit comments on the 11 sites still being decided - go to the Planning page and search for 'cycle hire'.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Construction starts on new docks

Work has begun to build the new docking stations which will extend the scheme south and west. They look set to become operational in the autumn.

Details of the docks being planned in Wandsworth are available here.

Other boroughs included in the extension are Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, and Kensington and Chelsea. Plus there will be a few new docks in the existing zones.

Some useful background is provided in this TfL paper.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Boris biking - a new dawn?

In the 4 months (!) since my last post, not a lot has changed. Slow and steady planning progress has been made towards the Western Extension; bad weather has reduced useage to a quarter of what it was at its Olympic peak; oh, and yes, the charges did go up. And then everything changed ...

See the Mayor's new vision for cycling here.

The obvious caveat is to wonder how much of this will actually come to fruition, but for now let's applaud the vision, and admit that the Mayor's vision for cycling has certainly changed from the rather impotent 'Cycling Revolution' we were initially promised. A good analysis of the new strategy is on the Cyclists in the City blog.

So let's think about what it promises on cycle hire - here's the text with my comments:

XII. Expanding and improving cycle hire

 We will extend Barclays Cycle Hire to many parts of Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and
Wandsworth by the end of 2013. This represents a nearly 30 per cent rise in the size of the
scheme, to around 11,000 bikes.

No news here, this is already in planning. More likely early 2014 by the time all the docks are installed.

 Our new mainline terminus Cycle hub will have London’s largest docking station, with at least
several hundred bikes, at our new mainline terminus Cycle Superhub (see above), with very
good cycle routes linking from it. This and the wider bike parking at the Superhub will help
address unsatisfied commuter demand.

One assumes this will not be Waterloo which already has a superdock. Paddington maybe? Kings Cross / St Pancras would probably be my preferred option, though the Euston Road is a barrier to cycling. Victoria would be nice, but I don't think there's space. A consideraton here will be the massive new commuter flow set up - are there enough docks in central London to cope with the increased demand?

 We will expand popular docking stations, where space and planning allows, to reduce the
problem of empty and full docks. This will involve reducing the number of bikes at less wellused
docking stations.

That's fine - but why reduce the number of bikes at less popular stations? Just have more bikes overall surely?

 We will open (or move) docking stations along our Quietway and Central London Grid routes
(within or just beyond the existing footprint of the scheme) to drive usage of the new routes.

Perfectly sensible, though opening new stations is to be preferred. If, as I think, this strategy will significantly stimulate cycle use in central London, many more centrally located docks will be needed. Plus why abandon sites which are already installed and have planning permission?

 We will carry out incremental expansion of the footprint where there is strong demand.

This is quite nebulous - what is strong demand? And might this favour affluent neighburhoods rather than others, where community groups are vocal and well-organised. Indeed, might it depend on the particular whims of local authorities? I would prefer to see a more centrally-planned scheme for expansion which will eventually cover all of London.

 We will work with local authorities who wish to pay to extend the footprint such as to Kentish

See above - what if authorities don't want to pay? No-one should be denied the bikes simply due to local politics.

 To drive usage, we will encourage companies, universities, colleges and hotels to install new
docking stations on their premises, at their own expense, for the use of their staff, students
and guests.

This is brilliant, if it's carried out properly, and the docking stations are located in public areas. In fact, it's probably the best way of addressing the capacity issues in central London. I could imagine a large dock in the grounds of Imperial College, just to choose one example.

 For this, we will particularly target companies and universities with a number of separate
central London sites which are slightly too far apart to walk between, but slightly too close for
public transport to be convenient.

I'm not entirely sure how effective this will be, but I don't object.

 Given the heavy use of the scheme by tourists, we will develop and market Barclays Cycle Hire
tour routes, along quiet streets, which they can follow, with appropriate signage, printed
leaflets, website downloads and apps for their phones. This again will drive usage.

Great idea - though I also think docking stations need to be better sited for tourist useage. Docking stations for St Paul's and Westminster Abbey for example are hidden in side streets. And dare I mention the Mall??

 We will integrate cycle hire with the roll-out of contactless payments using credit, debit and
charge cards, to make it a fully joined-up part of the transport network.

No objection to that - shame the system can't accept Oyster

Overall, the opportunities for cycle hire within the strategy are somewhat more limited than the ambitious initial phases of the scheme. Yet .the network of safer routes should significantly stimulate demand for the bikes, which in itself will further the case for further expansion and intensification. Boris calls for cycling to be 'de-lycrafied' - what better way than through the bikes which bear his name?