25 February 2009

Lambeth puts Bike Hire Scheme on map

Hooray for Lambeth. The borough is first off the mark with its proposed list of locations for docking stations in London's definitely-happening Bike Hire scheme. We went to see and comment on a presentation of the proposed sites last night (right).

A map of the proposed sites is on the Lambeth website. Not all these sites will go through (which is why there are some clusters - they're alternatives).

The whole scheme is being pushed through in some haste from the top: work has to start in May 2009 and the first bikes have to be available by May 2010. So, for Lambeth and the other eight central London boroughs involved, coming up with the list of docking sites has been a frantic cross between Pin the tail on the donkey and Countdown.

We enjoyed a short promotional film in which Boris enthuses about the scheme and calls for our support. It's actually pretty good, giving the right sort of reasons and portraying cyclists in the right sort of way.

In the film, the scheme is imaged as a convenient, quick, easy, instant alternative to tube and bus, which are already at bursting point. Cyclists are portrayed, hooray, as not all wearing helmets, bright jackets and lycra, like mobile belisha beacons; but as normal people, unhelmeted and in jeans and skirts and everyday shoes, just getting from A to B.

(Helmets will not be provided as part of the bike hire, and quite right too. Boris stresses in the film that all research shows that more cyclist on roads means better safety. More cyclists on the road, many of them novices. Some road users won't like that. Well, get over it.)

So now starts the horse-trading over where docking stations can go. They are supposed to be every 300m or so, but some of the 'obvious' sites - such as on Belvedere Road, behind the old City Hall - are on private land. And private landowners sometimes have an attitude problem to two wheels. Such as when they block cycle lanes with planters the size of a small car, as they have done on Belvedere Road.

But we're very positive about the scheme. We take the simple approach: anything that gets more people cycling more often is good. Lambeth has set the pace; now, come on Southwark et al.

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