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London Cycle Hire scheme ‘not ready for launch’ *Updated*

Simon Usborne
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  • Last updated: Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 4:59 pm
cycle hire scheme artist impression 300x200 London Cycle Hire scheme not ready for launch *Updated*

Artist's impression of a docking station

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.

In a post on Monday about news that a Mayfair man had failed to stop Westminster Council sticking a London Cycle Hire docking station near his house, I wrote:

“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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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706187175 Martje Ross

    I can’t help but think nobody would complain if the council decided to stick a taxi ramp in front of their house. Pathetic.

    I love the bike scheme in Paris, it was a life saver (or should I say foot saver)!

  • CraPo

    Simon, when you say you’ve seen scant evidence, are you aware that first an area is prepared with plates for the stands in preparation for the docking stations to be installed at a later date? Like this:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/suburbanslice/4416632431/

    Having said that, the four prepared sites around me still have no docking stations installed. Even if it takes a few hours to install, how many can one team do a day? 3-4? So thats 48 in the 12 working days left. How many installation teams are there? Do they work weekends? Out of hours?

    Interesting that the Press Office wouldn’t tell you how many will be running on launch day. I have an FOI request lodged for the same information. They say they’ll answer me by the 20th of July….

  • selondoner

    Interesting to note that the visionary image of the cycle hire facility above bears no similarity whatsoever to the ghastly ad-infested, Barclay-sponsored reality we will be getting as seen in the TFL website you link to.

  • http://twitter.com/archiebland Archie Bland

    I’m super excited about this, but maybe you can tell me, what happens if you hire one and then arrive outside work and all the slots are taken? Cos I’m guessing at our offices and those opposite, for instance, loads of people will be taking advantage of it

  • dbrb2

    The stations are pretty densely packed – not likely to be >400m apart over the zone where they are being installed.A docking station that is full will show, using the screen at the terminal, nearby stations with capacity. Your hire time will get a free 15 minute “boost” if this happens to give you time to get to a new site without incurring extra cost. A station that stays full for a while will also send an alert to the people looking after the system, so they can redistribute the bikes. There are also, across London, more docking points that cycles, so hopefully you will never be far from a free space.

  • dbrb2

    The stations are pretty densely packed – not likely to be >400m apart over the zone where they are being installed.

    A docking station that is full will show, using the screen at the terminal, nearby stations with capacity. Your hire time will get a free 15 minute “boost” if this happens to give you time to get to a new site without incurring extra cost. A station that stays full for a while will also send an alert to the people looking after the system, so they can redistribute the bikes.

    There are also, across London, more docking points that cycles, so hopefully you will never be far from a free space.

  • Pingback: London Cycle Hire: (really) not ready for launch | Simon Usborne | Independent Cyclotherapy Blogs


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