London Cycle Hire scheme ‘not ready for launch’ *Updated*
UPDATE: Independent staff awake enough to notice this morning arrived on Derry Street, our home in Kensington, to find a gleaming new docking station ready for launch. One colleague previously too terrified to ride in London is already planning to finish her tube journey to work early so she can cycle through Hyde Park, which will be music to Boris’s ears.
“I’ve seen scant little evidence around the capital of any building work or preparation (we’re supposed to get a station right outside our door, according to this map) and legal battles this close to the start raise questions in my mind about Transport for London’s readiness.”
Two things: By door, I meant the door of The Independent’s offices in Kensington. Also, I had a chat with a nice press lady at TfL yesterday, who admitted that problems with planning permission at several of the 400 docking station sites meant not all of them would be up and running from launch day on 30 July. She would not say how many we would have to wait for but assure me the “vast majority” are fine.
I asked her how long it takes to install a docking station. Just a couple of hours, I was surprised to hear. Once the groundwork is done to access mains electricity, it’s a case of a lorry rocking up, plonking the station down and plugging it in. Pretty much, anyway.
There have been problems with planning permission at “a number” of sites, I was told. The size of the task must be daunting – TfL has to work with several boroughs and other authorities to produce fat dossiers containing risk assessments, environmental reports, among other documents, for each site.
Teething problems are to be expected but Boris Johnson, as well as sponsors Barclays, will want the launch to go as smoothly as possible after huge problems with theft and vandalism have dogged other schemes, most notably in Paris, as well as early criticism of the Mayor’s “cycle superhighways”. I’m all for the scheme but scaling it back before it starts isn’t ideal. I’ll be watching closely as launch day approaches.
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