Friday, September 10, 2010

Half a Million Cycle Hire Journeys

...claim TfL.

The rate is 18,000 journeys a day from the 80,000 registered members. Which by any measure is not bad going for a scheme that is still in 'beta' by virtue of the 'casual user' launch being delayed. The scheme's target of 40,000 hires/day seems within reach. I freely admit I was sceptical about this being feasible and I am happy to be wrong.

What effects will this success have on the scheme, and on cycling in general?

There's a risk that the scheme could become a victim of its own success. Bike shortages and docking station saturation (i.e. can't return the bike because the docking stations in an area are all full) will lead to user frustration. So the scheme will need to evolve to meet demand. It's likely that there will be pressure to extend the hire area into neigbouring boroughs. The limiting factor may well be funding.

It may be that the presence of many cycle hire bikes will lead to a change from cycling being perceived as a minority activity indulged in only by a small number of wierdos wearing strange clothing and threatening to ordinary law-abiding prejudiced folk, to something that is normal (if rather brave) and acceptable. That will make achieving change in favour of cycling somewhat easier. However, it won't of itself lead to meaningful change. For that to happen, there needs to be a political vision in place, and in London that will have to come from the Mayor. So far, no political party with a chance of getting elected has produced anything I find convincing in terms of reducing the fear of traffic, which is the main factor keeping many people from cycling. However, political parties tend to follow public opinion rather than lead it. If people are hiring bikes, or at least wishing they could hire them, public opinion may change. This will be assisted if people grow frustrated with public transport fare rises, and slow and unreliable buses. In other words, if cycling becomes perceived as an alternative that should be available, and should be safer than it is, then change may come.


  1. At the very least, everyone who cycles round the city will experience life on a bicycle, become aware of the issues -make us less of an outgroup.

    However,unless taxi drivers, bus drivers, delivery van drivers and the like all get to spend time on the bike too, many of the dangerous vehicles won't get to experience this point of view.