Tag Archives: cycling

Just Like Riding A Bike

Will the new London bike share program be perfect? Probably not. But at least you all have the courage and wisdom to try.

gotham girlWhen we settled on bike share programs as the subject of this week’s Gotham Girl, I admit – I was worried. I wasn’t worried about the new Barclays Cycle Hire. I find that very exciting and clearly so does Boris. The closer we draw to the July 30th launch – yes, July 30th! Just a little over a month! –  the giddier he seems.

I wasn’t worried about finding facts and figures on bike share programs. These facts and figures are everywhere – in discussions on urban planning, mass transit, environmental issues, health, energy conservation, etc. Nor was I worried that I’d struggle to find an array of opinions. Plenty of people on both sides of the debate share their views with little prompting needed.

So what was my problem? I was worried that I was going to spend too much time whining about New York City’s lack of a bike share program. It’s ridiculous that we don’t have one, that we’re not even planning one. Of course, even if we were planning one – we’d need more cycling infrastructure before it had any chance of being implemented.

Boris knows this type of infrastructure is central to developing a successful bike culture. He said, “If we are to get more Londoners on to two wheels rather than four we need to provide the facilities to help them do so.” Such as? Well, secure bike storage and parking, for one. Places like the London Bridge Cycle Park for people who commute and use their own bikes regularly. There are other issues as well – junction design, route management, etc. – but none of them require reinventing the wheel. So why can’t NYC wrap its collective head around this.

Despite what the opposition here says, creating this infrastructure is not an engineering obstacle. Lots of cities have done it. London is doing it and London is larger, denser and (layout-wise) more complicated than NYC. Is it an economic stumbling block? Hardly. Planning and implementation costs are dwarfed by what the Metropolitan Transit Authority spends on their shoddy quick fixes for long-term problems. Add in what it costs them to keep patching those quick fixes and bike share ends up being a veritable bargain.

No, this is a political stumbling block. NYC lacks the political will and London doesn’t. It’s as simple as that. I don’t blame Mayor Bloomberg particularly. He’s shown more support for the expansion of bike culture than any mayor has for – well, since I can remember. I blame the city council and the state government and I blame them for several administrations back. They seem content with announcing grand plans and then implementing only very abbreviated versions of those plans. Just the other week the city announced a bike lane expansion so sweeping that it almost took my breath away. Guess how long it took for them to back pedal on it? Two days. It was nice while it lasted.

New York City isn’t wholly without cycling infrastructure, of course. We have some bike lanes – loosely defined as pictures of bikes painted on a particular section of road. Of course, only cyclists seem to know or care that these are bike lanes. Certainly few cars and buses behave as if they know what a bike lane is for.  They seem to believe it has something to do with parking.

Looking back at what I’ve just written, I was right to be worried. I’m almost half way in and I haven’t talked about any actual bike share programs yet. All I’ve done is complain. So let’s ignore New York’s biking blind spot for now and look at bike share in action.
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Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia

A7  The bicycle thieves
"The Bicycle Thieves"

Boris Johnson tells us more about the Cycle Friday campaign, which was launched today.

Everyone knows I’m a mad, fundamentalist cyclist – and although more people are cycling in London, there are still many who don’t. As I peer down from the 8th floor of City Hall, I see all those people toiling away in their cars, inching slowly across Tower Bridge, when they could be on a bike.

Whether it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Sunday I tend to go by bike but, although it is safe and getting safer, I fully appreciate that some people find it a little daunting at first. I have succeeded in persuading many of my staff to take it up, and always watch in wonderment as they edge nervously onto Tooley Street absolutely convinced the end is nigh.

But after a few times, they are soon zooming past me.

In a bid to convert more Londoners to the cycling cause, today I launched Cycle Fridays. For the next few weeks, every Friday, there will be a series of bike convoys led by experienced riders who will be on hand to guide novice commuter cyclists into central London. For a full list of the routes, click here.

Those joining the rides will be greeted by ride marshals from the London Cycling Campaign and will be given a basic bike check and useful cycle maps before getting on the road. Additional drop-off points can be agreed so that riders can get as close to their destination as possible.

The first Cycle Friday will take place on Friday 14 August, and they will continue every Friday until 2 October.

Continue reading Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia

Boris opens new cycling venue

Boris officially opened Redbridge Cycling Centre with its 2km circuit and off road trail on Tuesday, 19 August.  The track has been created as a public facility to compensate for the loss of the Eastway Cycle Circuit which is being turned into the VeloPark for Olympics 2012.    After thanking all those involved and having a quick race round the track with some children, Boris cheerfully described it as a ‘breathtaking’ facility that all could enjoy.  Here’s the video link.