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:
- 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
- Of those using cycle hire schemes elsewhere, the vast majority have shifted from either walking or other forms of public transport.
- TfL's market research found that just 1-3% of cycle hire users would otherwise have used cabs.
- 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.
- 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.
Of bigger concern should be Boris's plans to introduce a version of Paris's Autolib car hire scheme.
Now if that happens cabbies really will start to worry.