Sep 6 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
CYCLISTS in Brent and Harrow may have to wait a long time to see the famous Boris Bikes in their boroughs.
Transport for London (TfL) confirmed there are no plans to expand the popular Barclays Cycle Hire service – which allows people to rent bicycles from docking stations for as little as £1 for half an hour – into the north west London despite more than 260,000 journeys being made each week in central London.
Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Lorber, who recently found one of the distinctive blue bikes dumped in Wembley – six miles from the nearest dropping-off point in St John’s Wood – said: “We would like to see the bike hire scheme extended out at least as far as Wembley Stadium to increase the transport options available to local people.”
The scheme was launched in July 2010 under the tenure of the Mayor of London, the Conservative Boris Johnson. The sponsoring bank that bears its name bought the branding rights for £50million until 2018 and is supplemented by TfL funding and revenue from the scheme itself. A spokeswoman for TfL said only expansion into Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, and Kensington and Chelsea was being considered although the organisation is yet to secure additional financial backing for this theoretical third phase and it could take up to two years to implement in the event the money is found.
She said: “The Mayor of London would certainly be keen to take Barclays Cycle Hire to other parts of London if further funding becomes available.”
However, David Arditti, coordinator of Brent Cyclists, said: “It should not be seen as a priority.
“Far more important than getting Boris Bikes in Brent is to improve cycle routes in the borough, particularly to create ways for cyclists to safely cross the North Circular road, which is extremely difficult and hazardous to attempt at the moment.
“Boris Bikes could play a useful role in the denser parts of the south of the borough, like Kilburn, but they would probably not be appropriate to outer areas like Wembley.”
Nevertheless Brent Council is to still seek advice from TfL about the possibility of bringing both the hire scheme and Cycle Superhighways – the designated direct cycle lanes running unbroken from outer to central London – to its borough.
John Edwards, divisional director for environment services said: “We expressed an interest in getting Boris Bikes in Harrow when they first came out, and would still welcome them here now. We are committed to keeping Harrow clean and green, and getting people feeling more confident to travel by bike is one way to achieve this. The council already encourages this by offering free cycle training to anybody who lives or works in the borough.”