Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s Advisor for Transport, on the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme, a key part of the Cycling Revolution.
Last month we published the cycling strategy Cycling Revolution London, which outlines the Mayor and TfL’s plans to promote cycling in the capital. London has already seen a big rise in cycling and we want to encourage more Londoners to get on their bikes. It’s one of the key ways that we are going to combat many of the issues facing London – issues like congestion, climate change and health inequality. Cycling is one of the healthiest, cheapest and greenest ways of getting around and it’s great fun.
We are about to launch a key part of our plans for a Cycling Revolution – the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme.
I’ve just got back from Montreal where I’ve been catching up with their cycle hire scheme Bixi. It’s widely regarded as one of the best public cycle hire programmes in the world. We looked very closely at the work that had been done in Montreal while planning our own scheme. The Melbourne bike scheme, which has just been launched, is also modelled on Montreal. Bixi made it onto Time Magazine’s 50 best inventions list when it was launched and, having seen it, I can say it’s no surprise it has so many admirers. The scheme has become an important and integrated part of Montreal’s transport system, linking up particularly well with train travel. The bikes are taken off the streets between November to May and Montreal’s cyclists were thrilled to have the Bixi bicycles back, as they are a real part of the way locals and visitors get from A to B. This is just what we want to achieve in London.
The Cycle Hire scheme is sponsored by Barclays and we’re delighted to have them on board. The scheme is aimed at visitors to London as well as everyone who lives and works here. The pricing structure is designed to make it affordable and easy for people to take short trips in the city. Trips of two miles or under can be quickest by bike and by using the bicycles for shorter journeys we’ll be taking enormous pressure off our buses, roads and tubes. There will be 400 docking stations in central London - that's about one every 300 metres- so you’ll never be far from one of the 6,000 bikes.
We are, of course, also focused on safety and security. These are two issues that cyclists have to deal with everyday and that deter many Londoners from taking up cycling. The bicycles have a number of smart features to make them easy to see, like pedal powered lights, and they are really easy for novice cyclists to ride. Every user will read and sign up to a code of conduct, giving users the information and tips they need to cycle safely and responsibly, and we are also working with TfL to provide cycle training to further improve Londoners' riding skills. We have learnt from some of the security problems the Velib scheme in Paris faced and all our docking stations and bikes have been designed to beat the thieves.
The stylish, Barclays branded bikes will become a regular feature on London’s road from 30 July. In the meantime, there are roadshows around London that will give you a chance to have a look at the bikes and sign up to the scheme.
Also this summer, we are opening the first two Barclays Cycle Superhighways, which are direct and continuous routes into Central London. We are also developing a strategy for improving cycle parking so people can park their own bikes securely and London boroughs have signed up to become Biking Boroughs with their own biking initiatives. They will be more events as part of London's year of cycling, including the two local Sky Rides in July and August and the biggest ever Mayor of London Sky Ride in September.
Cycling is good for you and good for London. It's cheap, healthy, green and fun - and this summer, it's going to be the best way of getting around our city.