Four of London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme docking station will be suspended this weekend and the bikes removed for “crime management purposes” as the city gears up to host the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street festival. The news comes as Transport for London (TfL) reveals that a quarter of a million journeys have now been made on the distinctive navy blue “Boris bikes.”
The docking stations in question lie close to the route of the carnival parade, and are located on Westbourne Grove, Pembridge Road, Chepstow Villas and Pembridge Gardens. They bikes will be removed on Saturday evening and put back on Tuesday, according to the Evening Standard.
TfL reportedly made the decision to suspend the docking stations in response to a request from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the borough that hosts the carnival. According to a council spokeswoman, “We asked the police if they needed to be removed for crowd management purposes and they said yes. So many people are in the road, people probably wouldn't have been able to use them anyway.”
The newspaper added that the timing of the carnival was also a factor behind the decision to delay rolling out the scheme to the general public and tourists until mid-September.
Currently, only those who have signed up as registered users on the TfL website and obtained an electronic key can use the bikes. However, TfL hopes that people will use the scheme to get too and from the carnival, using docking stations located in places such as Kensington Church Street and the eastern end of Westbourne Grove.
While the scheme has not been without its teething problems – some users have been overcharged, including in cases where they haven’t yet used a bike, while others have encountered problems finding a free docking station when they need to return their bike – pre-launch fears of vandalism and theft appear to have been unfounded.
According to the Evening Standard, just two bicycles have been stolen as the scheme nears the end of its fourth week of operation, with on of those recovered from a garden in Bethnal Green. The other bike, which was taken in Islington, has not yet been recovered, although a man has been arrested in connection with the theft.
Meanwhile, TfL confirmed that 250,000 journeys have now been made on Boris bikes around the capital, with almost 60,000 people now signed up to use the scheme, with an average of 15,000 trips each day.
More than half the registered users – 34,400 people – have signed up for daily membership, which gives access to the scheme for £1 a day. Meanwhile, 21,700 have opted for annual membership, costing £45, equivalent to 12p a day. The least popular option is weekly membership, with 3,400 people paying £5 for seven days’ use.
Registered users also need to pay hire charges, but with the first half hour free, someone using a bike for less than 30 minutes per trip effectively gets free use of the scheme after paying their membership for the period selected.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, welcomed the initial success of eh scheme, saying: “In the past three weeks we’ve seen the streets of central London transformed, as our bikes become a familiar and immensely popular sight on London’s streets. Nearly 60,000 people have already voted with their pedals, making more than 250,000 journeys on the Capital’s newest icon and proving that London really is a cycling city.”
Nick Aldworth, Project Manager for Barclays Cycle Hire at TfL, acknowledged that the first few weeks of the scheme’s operation had been accompanied by teething problems, but said that these were being addressed.
“These are early days for Barclays Cycle Hire, and we are still working with our operator, Serco, to learn about and improve the scheme. We appreciate Londoners’ patience while our brand new public transport system beds in,” he continued.
“However, 250,000 cycle journeys in, it is clear that Barclays Cycle Hire is already proving hugely popular with those who live and work in the Capital,” Mr Aldworth added. “Around 93 per cent of all journeys made by Barclays Cycle Hire members have been under 30 minutes, which means that the vast majority of people using the scheme aren’t paying any more than their daily £1, weekly £5 or annual £45 access fees.”
Since the scheme was launched on 30 July with 315 docking stations, 20 additional ones have been made live, and once it is complete there will be 400 docking points and 6,000 bikes.
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.