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.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.