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Cycle Hire: Is that it?

By Jenny Jones AM, Green Party

The expansion of the cycle hire scheme to East London is great news for the people living there, but what about the rest of us? There is no big expansion south of the river to Clapham or Brixton (nor the Peckham border, where I live). There is no push northwards up to Camden Lock, or even westward into Hammersmith. It even falls short of actually entering the Olympic site, due to Met police demands for security and conflicts over sponsorship. It seems that Barclays have managed to secure the cycle hire bikes right outside their HQ while the Olympic site goes without.

This is a real disappointment for all the other people living and working in Inner London who won't have the scheme coming to their area. In fact, the London scheme will have only a third of the number of bikes that Paris has. The London Cycle Hire scheme will have around 8,000 bikes available by 2012, Paris already has 24,000 bikes. The Mayor has had a complete failure of ambition on this.

Paris had its initial expansion plans in place before their scheme had even started running and delivered them six months after their launch. Despite all the good experience from other countries and much enthusiastic prompting from me and many other current or would-be cyclists, London has taken an ultra cautious approach to cycle hire. A year ago, the Mayor was reluctant to have docking stations anywhere near mainline railway stations and the half hearted approach to this has already led to problems with over demand. There is a still a block on the use by tourists and casual users. I have urged him on numerous occasions to have the expansion plans ready, but we now have to wait till 2012 to get delivery of a few more bikes.

What seems to have escaped most of the media is how far short the Mayor is on the target of adding a million extra journeys being made by bike every day. Even with this expanded scheme Transport for London are aiming for an extra 40,000 journeys a day. As much as the scheme is raising the profile of cycling (and the mayor) it is a far short of what London needs.



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