Apologies for the London-centric nature of my blog today, but I couldn’t let the Barclays Cycle Hire
scheme, introduced across the capital on Friday, go unnoticed.
I live, work and cycle in London, and passed a few wobbly cyclists on the sturdy grey and blue Barclays bikes on my way in this morning, so this is obviously going to be more interesting to me than a non-cyclist living in, say, Durban. But bear with me.
For those who didn’t know (or care) that such a system was being introduced, it is similar to the Paris one, Vélib. Thousands of bikes are stored in docks around Central London, ready for people signed up to hire them – for free for the first 30 minutes and then on a sliding cost scale after that.
The scheme is Barclays-branded, but the contractor who has delivered it is Serco, which runs the Docklands Light Railway. And at this point I just thought it would be worth flagging up something Dave Hill dug up in his London Blog
on the Guardian
website. Far from this being introduced at “no cost to the taxpayer” by “commercial firms happy to shoulder the cost”, as set out in mayor Boris Johnson’s transport manifesto, the projected price tag to Transport for London is likely to be £114.3 million in the five years to 2013.
We’re all used to politicians making promises pre-election that don’t quite work out as planned. Personally I think this scheme is a great idea and I’ve already seen a couple of banks of bikes half empty during the day, so even if it’s only for the novelty value people are using them. But perhaps Mr Johnson should have had a word with his procurement team before putting together his manifesto – they would probably have told him that you don’t get owt for nowt.