London Assembly members have heard there are significant logistical challenges in converting the capital’s hire bike scheme to a cheaper, more easily expanded dock-less system.
The high cost of installing docking stations and their power supplies has limited Transport for London’s ability to expand the scheme since its roll-out into South West London four years ago.
Both the agency and former mayor Boris Johnson had said that the focus would shift to in-filling provision in partnership with landholders such as commercial developers and universities who’d like to offer the convenience of hassle-free cycle parking to their students and tenants.
In light of the cost challenges associated with the scheme, there have been calls for TfL to consider axing the current dock-based network in favour of new dock-less models being deployed in other cities around the world.
However, appearing before the London Assembly on Wednesday, Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, told AMs that while such a move would allow for a cheaper expansion of the scheme it would pose challenges “in a London context”.
Citing the example of Waterloo where commuters deposit 400 hire bikes each evening, Mr Norman said these bikes are currently redistributed to other docks and areas as needed.
He cautioned that under a dock-less system, which is less likely to include a redistribution model, the leaving of such a high number of bikes at a busy station would pose “a real challenge” and could be “quite disruptive”.
Norman said that while he, Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL were keen to increase usage of the hire scheme, they would have to monitor trials of different systems currently underway elsewhere in the country before considering moving to a new operating model.
“We need to think it thought carefully so that it doesn’t create even more of a backlash against cycling,” he cautioned AMs.