Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Cycle hire scheme - more docking stations needed

I cycled home this evening using the Cycle Hire scheme and discovered, to my dismay that Kennington Post Office, Kennington Cross, Kennington Tesco, Vauxhall Station and Sancroft Street docking stations were all full.  It appears that Kennington is quite the fashionable place to visit... or that we're as far south as people can get before resorting to buses and tubes.  The Evening Standard has a photo of the Serco personnel supplying extra bikes (or docks) at Waterloo Station here.  In my view, TFL have massively underestimated the demand and popularity of the Cycle Hire Scheme, particularly amongst commuters.

London-SE1 spotted a rather interesting clipping that suggests we might be due to gain some additional docking stations in SE11 soon. The proposed sites would be Vauxhall Street and Oval Way.  Vauxhall Street is quite long and so the site could be anywhere between Black Prince Road and the Oval Cricket Ground.  Oval Way is a tiny street and extra docks their should relieve the crowding at Tescos and provide a cycle hire option for the young people at Lilian Baylis School.  Objections from residents/businesses etc.have to be made by the 6th September.  Let's hope that nobody objects!

Also, if you're interested, here is a list of sites refused permission for docking stations.  Six sites in Lambeth were refused, three in SE11 and three in SE1.  One of the SE11 potential docks was Windmill Row, which many of us objected to on the basis that it is a very congested thoroughfare, doesn't have wide pavements and removes car parking that elderly/disabled people use to access the shops.  The other SE11 spots that didn't get permission were:  190-194 Kennington Lane (this is on the opposite side of the road to Imperial Court) and Sancroft Street where it crosses Newburn Street (2 stations have been built in Sancroft Street so this one wasn't a great loss).  In SE1, Webber Street and the Cut outside the Young Vic both had permission refused.  Near the border, permission was refused for a dock in SE1 near Lambeth Bridge.  The Lambeth Bridge dock is the one that I consider most important.  There's a lack of bikes anywhere near Westminster and this one would have bridged the gap somewhat.  I'm hoping that another application might be made.

Edit:  Under the guise of "why there aren't more bikes near Waterloo", Ross Lydall has published research by Ashley Lumsden (Lib Dem in Streatham Hill) on the reasons for Lambeth's refusal of the above docks.  Quite frankly, I fail to see how Windmill Row, Sancroft St and Lambeth Bridge quite count as Waterloo. Lambeth's refusal of six docks (many at the request of residents) hardly compares with Westminster's refusal of 29 and K&C's refusal of 12.  The real reason that there aren't more docks at Waterloo is because TFL chose to prioritise the Cycle Hire Scheme roll out for non-commuters.  Additional docks at stations will happen (we are lead to believe) during phase 2 of the installation.  Lumsdens' complaints look a little like political point scoring.


Daniel said...

On my walk to work I pass the docking station in Lower Marsh, in the car park of Cubana. There are usually no bikes left by about 8.30, and I've noticed a couple of commuters walking away dejectedly. It's an obvious nexus, with people coming into Waterloo then wanting to cycle over the bridge into the city so would make sense to have better provision.

Daniel (not the one above) said...

This is a problem that exists in other parts of London as well, and while more docking stations would certainly help, it is not the entire answer.

The problem is that there is not a perfect distribution of cycling activity. Users don't cycle around the system in perfect circles, redistributing the bike evenly as they go. Two trends dominate.

Firstly, London is a commuter town even in Zone 1: The bikes move from the edge of the cycling zone to the centre in the morning, and back again in the evening. This creates serious pinch-points at many central London cycle racks during the day, especially in the west end, but I also encountered full racks yesterday at Waterloo and Chancery Lane.

Secondly, the commuting activity is asymmetric. People are more inclined to cycle home at the end of the day than in at the beginning. I think this is reinforced in SE11, because it is essentially 'downhill' most of the way from central London.

So more bike racks would help these problems, but what I think you'd find is that any new racks put in SE11 would fill up pretty quickly. There needs to be much more active manual redistribution of bikes during the day, and at different times of day as well. I haven't seen this happen anywhere around town so far.

Also, regarding the new rack at Lillian Baylis, I'm sure there is an age restriction on the scheme's use, so you are unlikely to see many school kids using it. It is probably going there as people regard the bikes as an eye sore in more residential streets. (let's face it, they don't exactly contribute to the environment in the way that a red telephone box does!).

Finally, I would seriously recommend the free iPhone app that locates nearby docking stations and (now) provides live data about spaces available. I am yet to come across a working terminal at a docking station.

Jon B said...

There was one space left as I walked past the docking station at the north end of Kennington Lane (Renfrew Road) at c. 7:30 last night. Serco need to be more proactive in moving the bikes around at peaks. At the moment they just aren't managing it properly as the pile of undocked bikes at Kings Cross pictured recently in the Standard shows.

Chesterwegian said...

Was there not meant to be a docking station outside The Doghouse? I'm pretty sure it was on the original plans and in fact I think it was indicated on the map sent round a month ago. Did they object or is it coming in phase 2? Or is it me misreading the Sancroft Street station on the map?

Anonymous said...

an additional docking station at or v near the doghouse would be good. I think they need to add more docking stations to all the se11 sites.

next month, it's going to get alot busier when you can just pay and go.

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