Zac Goldsmith today pledged to introduce a series of “regional” bike hire schemes in outer London boroughs and promised to continue investment in cycle superhighways if elected Mayor.
The need to attract high numbers of riders in order to aid its financial viability means the current cycle hire scheme is largely focussed on central London where it is popular with commuters and tourists.
High build-out and infrastructure costs have seen current Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London back away from expanding the scheme beyond its current 12 host boroughs, with efforts instead focused on boosting the number of bikes and docking stations in areas already covered by the scheme.
If Mayor, Mr Goldsmith says he would order TfL to draw up plans for a series of “town-centre to town-centre” schemes which would allow Outer Londoners to ditch their cars.
The Conservative mayoral hopeful suggests these mini schemes could be part-funded by sponsorship and says work would begin in 2017 when contracts for the current central London scheme are due to expire.
TfL is already planning a number of changes as part of the re-tendering, including adding the option to pay by contactless and Oyster card in a bid to simplify use and increase ridership numbers. Mr Goldsmith said today that he backed that plan.
In addition to his proposed TfL hire schemes, Goldsmith has also promised to work with London-based bike manufacturer Brompton Bikes to bring their hire scheme to four Outer London Boroughs.
Last year Goldsmith suggested he would focus on plans to build more ‘quietways’ rather than cycle superhighways and last month told LBC he would “rip up” the superhighways “if the evidence showed that they didn’t work”. Both interventions have been criticised by cyclists and cycle lobbyists.
AUDIO: ZAC GOLDSMITH DISCUSSES HIS CYCLING POLICY
(Audio recorded March 30th following publication of Mr Goldsmith’s transport manifesto)
Today he promised to “guarantee new quietways and cycle superhighways” but said he would “consult on new proposed routes to ensure traffic impact and resident views have been carefully considered” before schemes were given the go-ahead.
Goldsmith also pledged to “take forward” TfL’s existing plans to boost safety at 33 of London’s most dangerous junctions and said he would reduce the numbers of HGVs in the capital by promoting the use of consolidation centres, a policy also put forward by Liberal Democrat mayoral runner Caroline Pidgeon.
Unveiling his pledges, Mr Goldsmith said: “Boris has put huge emphasis on cycling.
“As part of my Action Plan for Greater London I will build on that legacy, bringing Boris bikes to the outer boroughs, introducing easy oystercard payments to double the number of cyclists across Greater London, and continuing investment in making cycling safer and easier.
“I will make London the cleanest and greenest city on earth, and this is part of that commitment.”
Goldsmith claimed that Labour candidate Sadiq Khan’s pledge to freeze fares for the entire mayoral term “would make protecting cycling investment impossible.” Earlier on Tuesday Mr Khan claimed his rival planned to hike up fares by “up to £1,000”.
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Candidates for Mayor include Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.