Wednesday, March 07, 2012

As a user myself, I’ve been interested to see the unveiled new extension to the area in which 'Boris bikes' will be running. Perhaps unsurprisingly, with the Olympics coming up, it appears to favour the Docklands and those areas adjacent to the site, with a few extra stations added in ‘North Shoreditch’ (i.e. about as far as the Geffrye Museum). Understandable, of course, with such an enormously significant event coming up, but I still can’t see why the catchment area for the bikes at the moment has to be so saturated while many others areas and boroughs, all of which are broadly ‘inner London’, have been crying out for the scheme and yet have not been serviced by a single docking station. With the current extension I can’t help but feel that while Boris ostensibly is addressing the tournament this summer, in reality the extension is equally there to serve the suits in Canary Wharf.
If he’s serious about the scheme being a meritocratic service for the general public, and not just for a coterie of bankers, there needs to be docking stations in most of Hackney (including Dalston), lots of Islington which currently isn’t serviced (Holloway Road for one), all of Haringey – which, remember, stretches from Muswell Hill to South Tottenham – and preferably some of Waltham Forest. These are vast areas, with an enormous population combined. South of the river, too, areas such as Brixton, Clapham and New Cross haven’t had a look in.
Instead of building dense collections of docking stations streets away from each other in the catchment areas, it strikes me as far better to build outwards with less density of the stations. That way, a larger area is included within the cycle scheme, if one where the stations are dispersed much more sparsely. Stoke Newington, for example, might only get a handful, but it’ll still be better than nothing. Otherwise, I can’t help but shake the feeling that Boris is only aiming for where the bankers live.


Tom Hamshere said...

Being a resident of Haringey, I'd love to have bikes in my area. I signed up to the scheme when it first opened and use the bikes regularly when I'm working or wandering in London.

However, I understand exactly why more disperse docking stations wouldn't work. If you spread the stations out too much, they won't be close enough to where you want to go to make them worthwhile. If I live a five minute ride from Finsbury Park I'm not going to walk for 10 minutes to find a docking station to pick up a bike - it'd be quicker to walk straight there.

Even the five minute walk from my old office to the nearest docking station was enough to make me think twice about going to get one. If there'd been one across the road, I'd have been a lot keener.

Anyway. I'm hoping that the expanded area works well, because I'd love to see more expansion soon.

GoodnightLondon said...

Perhaps Barclays simply don't want to stump up the money. But given how popular cycling seems to be in the whole of Hackney, I can't see how they wouldn't make a return on their investment if they did set up lots of docking stations there. I fully believe the demand would be there. It's just very annoying that if you go further than what feels like a very small patch of Shoreditch and south Hackney, there isn't any docking stations at all (not to mention the whole Holloway Road area).