Friday, 17 February 2012

Boris Bikes - a second (and third) opinion

My view of the Boris Bikes (aka the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme) might be misrepresentative.
After all, everyone has different needs, and differing views (and prejudices!)
So here are another couple of views:

The Second Opinion

Here is a news feature about the "Boris Bikes" scheme from BBC London (a London news program, broadcast by the state-owned broadcaster), from 17th January 2012 (just one month ago), with some subtitle summaries added by David Hembrow, who put the clip up on You Tube.

At the 0:52 point on the video, a man being interviewed makes exactly the same point as I did in my previous post - sometimes the docking station you had planned to finish your journey at is already full of bikes.

The report also makes the points that:
  • there have been problems with IT, callcentres and distribution of bikes
  • the users are mostly a particular segment of society (middle-aged men)
  • the overall costs of the scheme do not seem to be available to the public

The Third Opinion

David Hembrow, a British cycling enthusiast who lives in the Netherlands, has written repeatedly on his bike blog about the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.
David has a blog, a youtube channel, an online shop, and a company that does cycling holidays

You might want to give his blog entries a quick read:
  1. usage will be less than the official projections
  2. whatever the usage, a predicted 6000 bikes for 8 million Londoners won't make much difference
  3. the money would be better spent on more cycle paths and other "cycling-friendly" road and junction improvements
  1. the scheme is VERY expensive - with the overall costs (including IT, admin, planning, maintenance, docking stations) of each bike being about 46 times the actual purchase cost of each bike, and 
  2. the scheme is VERY expensive - the annual running costs being about 5 times the actual purchase cost of each bike
  3. it would be cheaper to just give away 500 decent quality bikes (Pashleys, Bromptons, and Cargo Bikes) every day for a year
  4. the money would be better spent on more cycle paths etc., as people would still be worried about the safety of cycling on the roads
  1. the Boris Bikes are not being used as much as official predictions expected, and only 20% of users didn't already cycle in London
  2. only 150 people a day are using Boris Bikes instead of using their car
  3. most registered users of the Boris Bike scheme also own their own bike (implying that hire bikes are thus irrelevant)
  4. the planned Boris Bikes scheme is only one-quarter of the size of that in Paris, yet the Mayor expects it to be more succesful
  5. better, safer, cycle paths and junction designs are required, because the Barclays SuperHighway cycle routes are taking too long, and 60% of cyclists don't feel safer user them
  1. the official press releases from the scheme present the data in a misleading fashion
  2. the scheme effectively has a very heavy subsidy for each hire of a Boris Bike
  3. most Londoners (who presumably pay for part of the subsidy through local taxation) don't live in the central area of London, and don't use the scheme
  4. although more people are cycling in London since the scheme started, the increase isn't very much
  5. the money would have been better spent on Dutch-style improvements (David means better, safer, cycle paths and junction design again!)
So, overall, David Hembrow thinks the money would have been much better spent on cycle infrastructure, rather than hire cycles, especially better, safer, cycle paths and junction design.

If you find that the links to David's blog don't work, then I suspect David is tinkering with his site.
I am sure you, and David, will find that I have summarised his views fairly accurately, but if you have reason to think otherwise, then do not hesitate to inform me.
Similarly, if anyone thinks that by summarising David's views (with attribution, and links) I am in some way infringing his liberties or his (or anyone else's) copyright, then also do not hesitate to inform me.

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