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Cheeky, Sneaky or Both??

August 12, 2010

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Boris+Bike&iid=9454868″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9454868/mayor-boris-johnson/mayor-boris-johnson.jpg?size=500&imageId=9454868″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]

 Skipton, England – The start of London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, better known in the capital as ‘Boris Bikes’, would on first glance appear to be a positive. But….

There always seems to be a but when it comes to anything that Transport for London (TfL), or come to that some London Boroughs, involve themselves in.

Take the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme as an example. Championed by former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and launched by current London Mayor, Boris Johnson, around 10 days ago the scheme has sent London’s cyclenistas into a frenzy of eco back slapping. Wow critical mass docked just outside the office dear, and it’s sponsored by those nice people from Barclays.

Please don’t run off with the idea that I’m against this scheme, I’m not. Anything that gets bodies out of cars and onto two wheels, even without an engine, I like. But the cost of this scheme is nothing less than jaw dropping and the expense appears to have been justified by simple not justifying it.

London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is reckoned to have cost £140 million, including £25 million from Barclays Bank. For that we get 6,000 bikes across 400 docking stations in central London. OK the scheme is projected to produce 40,000 journeys per day with hire charges covering costs but I bet it ends up being subsidised.  Why? Because in the real world it’s not all touchy feely cyclists is it. If the London scheme has issues like the Parisian Velib cycle hire system then there’s going to be a bit of a cost overrun. Since the Paris scheme started in July 2007 around 8,000 of the city’s 20,600 cycles have been stolen and 16,000 of the original fleet of 20,000 bikes have had to be replaced because of damage. Trust me the London cycle hire gig is going to cost a lot more than ‘they’ are saying. Hey but not to worry I’m sure the French supplies of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme docking systems and Devinci Cycles in Bagotville, Quebec, Canada, who made the cycles will only be too delighted to offer support and replacements. Boris obviously has not got a passion for the trusty British Pashley!

You may be wondering by this time exactly where in the BRR cinema you have to sit to get the TfL but bit. Not to worry you are in the right seats coming shortly in HD and 3D. If you don’t stand on the seats the BRR usherette, the delightful Glenda, will be thrilled to give you a flash of her Mivvi. Provide of course we can find a new 6 volt bulb and Every Ready battery for the little light on her usherette tray.

Now showing it’s the Expendables sorry that should be motorcycling parking in London is expendable. Yes its good-bye to around 200 motorcycle and scooter parking spaces in central London and hello to Boris Bike docks. Of course TfL and the Boroughs have given assurances that motorcycle and scooter parking spaces have been ‘reallocated nearby’ and even ‘additional motorcycle parking spaces are being provided at new sites’. But those of us who enjoy the daily scrum to park a motorcycle or scooter in somewhere like Westminster know that is complete and utter b*****ks. This is all about getting motorcycle and scooter parking off street and into under used car parks, where no doubt a contractor will be delighted to fleece us to park.

And, as has been pointed out on a number of Forums, its strange how Westminster Council say that charging for motorcycle and scooter parking is necessary because kerbside space is so limited yet TfL claim that all the motorcycle parking spaces have been relocated to nearby areas. In other words, lots of extra room has been easily found for motorcycle and scooter parking. So why the need for demand management as a result of a lack of kerbside space?

Why is this so difficult, it’s not the same in other European capitals. I’ve been to a central Stockholm car park, and been shown where to park my bike free by an unpaid student ‘city ambassador’. London ‘City of Culture’, host of the 2012 Olympic Games motorcycles, scooters nein danke, eintritt verboten.

I met this bloke; he reckoned that being a motorcyclist was like being a Millwall FC fan ‘No One Likes Us’. I pointed out that the chant down at the ‘Den’ in the 1970’s was ‘No One Likes Us – We Don’t Care’

Biker’s  – siege mentality, naaahh.

© Back Roads Rider 2010

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. dave permalink
    August 12, 2010 10:18 am

    Perhaps as the World Bank has said ‘care should be taken that motorcycling is not encouraged’ (or words to that effect) Barclays are taking this one step further and using their financial input to this scheme to ensure life becomes more difficult for bikers? Why the banks have something against biking is anyones guess but I assume it’s either fincially motivated or just that someone faceless in some high office somewhere just doesn’t like us.
    Imagine if over the course of a couple of months car use dwindled in city centres to virtually nothing. Parking revenue drops, traffic wardens are laid off, congestion charge revenue drops, fuel sales drop and no one has an excuse for late deliveries. Public transport is overwhelmed and the streets are a wash with cyclists and motorcyclist. It’s in a lot of peoples interests to maintain the status quo which is why our policies relating to transport and roads are so wanting…

  2. Honda90 permalink
    August 12, 2010 3:18 pm

    £140 million !!! This is another of those schemes where money seems to be no object and value for money seems to have been forgotten. For £140 million I reckon you could get at least a million and a half new cheap bikes and dump them randomly around the city (especially at the termini). Yes, many (most?) would get nicked, either people would keep them and ride them (which is the aim) or sell them to other people, who would then ride them (another result). OK, the police would need to check vans and lorries a bit for organised thievery, aimed at export, but there would be no real administration costs. Job creation? Well, there would be plenty of work for cycle repair shops (to make up for the loss of sales) and the usual scheme of getting community service yobs to collect, repair and release the bikes back into the wild.

    Oh yes, nearly forgot. Couldn’t they use a bit of that £140 million to boost motorcycle parking and drop the current charges in Westminster? Just a thought.

  3. Andy Capinhand permalink
    August 13, 2010 11:40 pm

    Oh pshaw…

    Will the scheme take off? with loads of tourists in London, they might think it’s a wonderful idea, until they crash of course.

    Will they be stolen? probably.

    Could Boris have used the £140 million for more worthy causes? undoubtedly.

    But these schemes operate throughout Europe, not just in Paris, but Brussels too. The way the system works in Brussels, you have to leave some form of identification.

    They even had a scheme in Stratford-upon-Avon a few years back – the Gold scheme. All the bikes were either stolen, or abandoned and smashed into pieces. But the thought was there.

    Is it a conspiracy against motorcyclists? probably not. Just a dumb idea and a waste of tax payers money – but hey! who’s counting.

    I wonder if CTC was involved in this? Because it’s wonderful publicity for cycling.

    Where did we go wrong? How did we piss so many people in high places off? hmm I wonder?

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