Monday, 6 September 2010

Where's Boris Johnson's "cycling revolution"?

The latest edition of Snipe is out on the streets along with my take on Boris's promised "cycling revolution"

"The most remarkable thing about Boris Johnson’s “cycling revolution” is that there doesn’t appear to have been one. Despite millions of pounds of investment, reams of publicity and a high-profile cycling mayor, the amount of journeys taken by bike is low and is expected to remain so...

"Boris’s new bike hire scheme is proving popular but it’s on a frustratingly small scale with fewer than a third of the number of bikes as the Paris VĂ©lib’ scheme covering less than half of the area.

"And while lots of Londoners are using the new bikes, multiple software faults and delays to open registration mean that many more have chosen to keep away for now."

Since going to press, we've learnt that casual and tourist use has been delayed again, this time until Christmas.

It's a big blow to what I still think has been the best thing that Boris done as mayor.

That he and TfL are failing to capitalise on the scheme's early success is a real shame but is perhaps to be expected.

As others have noted, while a fantastic addition to London, it was never going to cause the kind of "cycling revolution" that has been seen in other cities.

To start a real revolution would need the kind of vision (and money) that Boris hasn't got.

Unfortunately what we do still have is a lot of PR for Boris and a glamour model as "cycling ambassador."

More key points from ibikelondon


prj45 said...

[i]Since going to press, we've learnt that casual and tourist use has been delayed again, this time until Christmas.[/i]

This is one of the sadder sights I see in London today, a line of tourists excitedly standing at the terminal only to discover that they can't use the bikes. I mean I suppose they might understand that effectively the scheme is still under trial but they've probably come from a city where their scheme is up and running for all. this can't look good.

That and of course the less people use the bikes the less they are distributed around which is causing problems for the "pioneers".

It was also sad to see lines and lines of Boris bikes unused during this weekend's sky ride.

I'd like to think Livingstone would have done all this so much better, but have no evidence to show this!

Helen said...

Well, Ken proposed to improve the infrastructure for cycling *and* walking before introducing his cycle hire - not just paint a blue stripe down a couple of roads...

Helen said...

I learnt from the London cycle hire feasibility study that the population of the deployment area in London is 400,000 - compared to 6,500,000 in the Paris cycle hire deployment area. The Paris hire area is twice as large as that of London, but that's still a massive relative difference in population sizes. The main users of the London scheme appear to be train commuters finishing the final legs of their journeys on the hire bikes. The feasibility study knew that the system would not be able to cope with train commuters so recommended that this market was not catered to "initially". As docks have been placed within a few minutes' walk of main London termini, they *have* made the scheme accessible to train commuters. How to shoot yourself in the foot....