Yesterday evening, Central London was awash with trailers carrying dozens of bikes at a time as the city’s new hire bikes – which we reviewed here yesterday on road.cc – were ferried to their docking stations ahead of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme going live at 6am this morning. However, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has warned that there are likely to be some teething problems.
In an interview with the radio station LBC, Mr Johnson said: “I have no doubt lots of things will go wrong.” While he added that the project, modelled closely on the Bixi scheme in Montreal, would be a “great success” in the long term, he explained: “The reality is that the software issues and technical issues of getting the whole thing up and running for tomorrow has been extremely difficult.”
Mr Johnson insisted that he expected that today’s launch “is going to be fine. It will be more of a gradual launch than a big bang,” but continued: “I have so many concerns it's hard to pick one out.”
He added that concerns raised by the public about the bikes included whether they would float should they end up in the Thames, and what might happen in the event bikes were stolen or vandalized or “if they end up at the Taj Mahal”. We’re guessing he didn’t mean the Indian restaurant in Richmond.
Mr Johnson also said that net of tax, each bike cost “£800 or £900,” admitting that “It's a lot of dosh for a bike, no question about it, but it will come down as the scheme expands.”
Meanwhile, Transport for London told the Evening Standard that 1,300 of the 6,000 bikes – nearly a quarter of the total – would not be in place for this morning’s launch.
The newspaper also claims that 3,000 of the 10,200 docking points – nearly one in three – are not yet ready. The newspaper made its calculation after going to 374 sites that appear on TfL’s cycle hire map and found that 284 were complete, 34 were still being constructed and work was yet to start at 56 locations.
According to TfL, around 8,000 docking points at 330 docking stations were due to be operational this morning. Until the end of August, the scheme will only be available to registered users, who can sign up on the TfL website and buy an electronic key for £3, which will have to be activated before it can be used.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.