Murad Qureshi says City Hall ‘putting brakes on Boris Bikes scheme’

Published: 21 October 2010

PUNCTURES and wet weather are standard hazards for cyclists, but now a politician has claimed that “Boris Bike” users are facing a new obstacle: City Hall.

Murad Qureshi, Labour London Assembly member, this week criticised Westminster City Council for putting the brakes on 33 applications for bike hire docking stations – more than any other local authority.

The avid cyclist, who lives in Queen’s Park, accused the city council of jeopardising the success of the scheme, saying there was a “chronic shortage” of these stations in the borough. The council said his comments were unfair and claimed it received more applications than other local authorities.

Mr Qureshi said: “Westminster City Council has been the obvious obstacle to the rolling out and the future success of the cycle hire scheme, with just over 40 per cent of the refused bike stations and one quarter of the withdrawn applications coming from within the borough.”

In August he highlighted the case of two docking stations under the Marylebone flyover which were marked on Transport for London maps but had not been built. 

Chris Skitch, who lives near Charing Cross and runs online forum, said many applications were being refused planning permission in Westminster because of complaints from residents.

He said: “What makes me angry is where local residents have objected. That seems to be happening most often in affluent parts of London where people would rather have Chelsea tractors driving around than these unsightly hoodlums on bikes. There’s a case to be made that property values improve with the docking stations so I think residents who object might be making a mistake.”

Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader and cabinet member for the built environment, said: “We strongly refute any suggestion that we are not supportive of the mayor’s bike hire scheme. In Westminster we are keen to see lots of people using bikes in the city, and we have been supportive of the scheme as we see it as an important way of tackling climate change and a way of introducing more environmentally friendly transport into the city.

“We have given permission for 170 bike hire stands in Westminster, that is more than any other borough, and we have worked hard to make sure that the docking stations have been placed in appropriate sites. 

“The only reason that we may have refused more applications than elsewhere is because a greater number of applications were made to us.”

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