Boris Johnson is set to trial the hire of e-bikes in an area of North London not currently covered by the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, in an initiative agreed in principle with the London Borough of Haringey. The proposed trial is subject to a feasibility study and planning permission.
The bikes would be situated at docking stations along ‘corridors’ that will extend northwards from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Alexandra Palace.
In Paris, operators of the Vélib’ scheme discovered early after its launch that residents of areas such as Montmartre were commuting downhill by bike in the morning then returning home by other means in the evening.
After the pattern of use was identified, operators of the scheme ensured that docking stations were regularly replenished early on in the day.
The hilly terrain of North London means that it has been deemed unsuitable for a northwards extension of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, however.
The e-bike trial – similar schemes exist in hilly cities such as Genoa in Italy and San Francisco – means that locals would be able to more or less coast downhill towards Finsbury Park, then use power assistance for the return journey, or vice-versa.
While the area of the trial, assuming it goes ahead, would not overlap with Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme – which doesn’t extend north beyond the Regent’s Canal in the southern part of Islington – Finsbury Park is a major transport interchange that offers surface and underground options for onward travel.
The bikes’ batteries would be recharged at the docking stations and the trial – the first of its kind in the UK – would be funded out of Transport for London’s £913 million fund to develop cycling in the capital.
Mr Johnson said: “E-bikes are already big on the continent because they take the puff and pant out of cycling.
“Once again, London is leading the way in Britain with new cycling innovations and the elevated latitudes of Haringey are perfect for this trial.”
Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council, added: “We’re really excited to welcome e-bikes to Haringey – and to become Britain’s first e-bikes borough.
“This project with the Mayor of London underpins our commitment to being one of the capital’s greenest boroughs and to promoting and rewarding greener travel through improved cycling facilities and sustainable transport across Haringey.
“Together, we can encourage more people to leave their cars at home and offer the next generation of cyclists safer and better routes around our borough.”
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.