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.