Judging by some of the figures which emerged from yesterday’s London Assembly Transport Committee meeting, which reviewed the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, the Guardian editorial (11th of October) appears to have been in haste. The Committee heard that whilst Transport for London have 94,000 registered users and despite reaching the 1 million journey mark, we need to be sceptical. To date the scheme has 315 docking stations, some 21% down on the target of 400 and consequently only 4,138 bikes out of a total 6,000 available for hire, (31% down from the original target). Consequently, the shortage of docking stations impacts detrimentally in meeting actual daily demand for 13,600 journeys, (which incidentally is still not as high as the original business case estimate which put daily demand at 30,000 in the first year; 55% less then actual demand).
It also became apparent that the problem of the lack of docking stations, could be parked right outside the doorstep of Westminster Council. It appears they’ve been a major obstacle to the successful rolling out of the scheme and therefore, its future success. A summary of sites refused planning revealed that a staggering 40% (33 out of a total of 82 ) of planning applications for bike docking stations were refused by their planning committee and one half of the total number of withdrawn applications (3 out of 6) also derived from within its boundaries. Not surprisingly, therefore, not only is there a chronic shortage of docking stations, Westminster’s approach has meant that the scheme is failing to meet the demand for bikes by about 30%. Its still early days to make a comprehensive judgment upon the success of the hire scheme, but clearly the City of Westminster is not helping to achieve it’s long term sustainable success.