Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Why cabbies shouldn't worry about Boris's cycle hire scheme

I've picked up some disquiet amongst tweeting and blogging cabbies about Boris's cycle hire scheme.

Why is Boris (who so many cabbies supported in 2008) spending £140 million on something that will clog up the roads and take cash from their cabs?

I think that these worries are misplaced and here's why:

  1. The number of people using the scheme will be relatively low. Bike rides currently make up just 1% of journeys in London. Even the most optimistic predictions have that growing to just 5% by 2025
  2. Of those using cycle hire schemes elsewhere, the vast majority have shifted from either walking or other forms of public transport.
  3. TfL's market research found that just 1-3% of cycle hire users would otherwise have used cabs.
  4. The scheme is not designed for commuters. Bikes have been deliberately placed away from railway stations. Taxis will still be the easiest way to get from the station to the office.
  5. The bike scheme should attract more tourists and visitors into central London and more visitors equals more business for cabbies.

For a full breakdown of the figures see TfL's feasibility study.

The Guardian also have a good piece comparing Paris's experience with London.

Of course there will inevitably be problems with the scheme.

More inexperienced cyclists on the road could well mean more accidents and no doubt there will be plenty of complaints from drivers generally.

But overall it should pose no significant threat to cabbies and may in some ways actually benefit the trade.

Now if that happens cabbies really will start to worry.


Anonymous said...

Cabbies will always oppose ALL attempts to get more people on ANY form of public transport.

AdamB said...


Anonymous said...

Cabbies have been kowtowed to by Boris they would be happier with NO public transport.

Sven Ellis said...

Well, cab drivers are in competition with public transport. As a Londoner, I want public transport to be safe, reliable and a pleasant experience. As a cab driver, I want it be like the Middle Passage. You pick up lots of people at bus stops who've got tired of waiting, and often hear "I was going to get the Tube, but I couldn't face it".
But even the most paranoid of cab drivers doesn't think the cycle hire will have much effect on trade. Their opposition is partly a suspicion that it will unleash a wave of inexperienced users blocking the roads, but mostly it's just standard anti-cycling pavement/red light/lycra lout nonsense, amplified to hysteria by constant exposure.

AdamB said...

Sven - I think that's probably right. Taxis are seen as a more convenient option for people either in a rush or not willing to bother with the congested tube etc.

I can't see the bike hire scheme taking up many of those people. If you can't be bothered to take the tube, you're unlikely to want to navigate yourself across London on a Boris bike.