On bicycle's, on Boris

Having finally gotten around to reading the excellent Dave Hill newsletter I see we are ever closer to having our own version of the velib in London, as part of Boris' legacy of his first, and hopefully, final term.

I'm all for a velib type scheme, it was in fact a Lib Dem policy going into the last Mayoral elections but I do have some reservations about whether London is ready for such a scheme.

Firstly, it's due to start in central London only - which means that it, like most of the other city schemes across the world, will be used mostly by tourists, rather than Londoners (who will still have their travelcards and therefore have no financial incentive to use velib) but it will be paid for by Londoners.

Secondly, are the roads in central London ready for a few thousand wobbly tourists who are coming to terms with cycling on the left? I don't cycle in central Lonond because I find it far too scary. I'm not ging up there until they have proper cycle lanes, with phsical barriers (as in a raised curb) between me and the lorries; so what's it going to be like for the tourists. We don't have the wide boulevards of Paris, in London (obviously). So, in addition to the bike scheme, more money needs to be spent on improving cycle lanes.

And lastly, although most of these schemes have ended up going out into the suburbs, wouldn't it have been better to start there? After all the majority of the very short journeys that are made by car now, and that we want to stop are in outer London, not inner London. Getting people out of their cars and onto a bike for a trip to the butchers on Lordship Lane will surely make a greater difference to people's quality of life?

So, none of these problems I have raised are insurmountable, and I am in principle in favour of a velib type scheme - however, if it is going to benefit all Londoners and not just be a bit of fancy window dressing then it needs to be better thought through.


Brian Robson said...
19 Aug 2009, 09:56:00

Having used the similar Vel'Oh scheme in Luxembourg, I'm a big fan of this.

But the other issue for us south Londoners is that there won't be any bikes outside mainline rail termini like London Bridge, Waterloo or Charing Cross.

Apparently TfL reckon demand would be so high there that they've just copped out and won't be providing any stands at stations.

South London loses out again - it's like Oyster pre-pay all over again.

Jo Christie-Smith said...
19 Aug 2009, 13:35:00

That's crazy - so it won't do anybody coming into London from the suburbs any good at all.

It really is just for tourists then!

Why even when Boris has good intentions does he just end up tinkering around the edges - all press releases and no good to anybody!

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