Opinion divided over plans to bring ‘Boris Bikes’ to Merton


Boris Bikes’ in Merton would be both a blessing and a curse, according to residents and businesses.


By Alfie Godden, Pete Grant, Sara Hailan and Claire Vanner

‘Boris Bikes’ in Merton would be both a blessing and a curse, according to residents and businesses.

Last month, Merton Council voted in favour of negotiating with the Mayor over extending the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme to the borough.

This came after plans were unveiled to roll out the docking stations in South West London as far as Wandsworth and Lambeth by 2014.

But there is mixed reaction from Merton cyclists and shop owners following the Council’s proposal to bring the bikes further south.

Richard Smith, owner of AW Cycles has sold and repaired bikes in Colliers Wood for 55 years.

He said: “It obviously could harm our business but you can’t stand in the way of progress. It’s a part of life.

“In many ways the new bikes could do us a big favour. It could get more people into cycling and then they may want to buy their own bike.”

He added the success of cycling at the Olympics has boosted people’s interest in getting in the saddle.

“Some people have got the bug again,” he said.

However, Merton residents are hesitant about the how the scheme would work in their area.

Mitcham cyclist, Ben Humphreys, believes the bikes will only be safe in more affluent areas such as Wimbledon.

He said: “Boris Bikes around Mitcham will be mistreated and vandalised, they will just be like sitting ducks.”

Colliers Wood resident, Colin Jardine, is unsure the popularity of the bikes in his community.

“The only people that use the Boris Bikes are posh, white men,” he said.

There are also fears over the safety of cycling in the area.

TFL’s Cycle Superhighway 7 runs through Merton, linking Colliers Wood with the City.

Highway user Robin Fryer from Mitcham said that the 8.5 mile stretch is an every day battle, as the path is too narrow.

“Competitive cyclists don’t have much respect for each other and it doesn’t end well. It’s mayhem,” he said.

Over 16 million bikes have been hired from the 570 docking stations in central London since the scheme launched in July 2010.

Merton Councillor Mary-Jane Jeanes, who proposed the Merton extension, said: “I am delighted that the Council voted to begin negotiations with the Mayor of London about extending the Bike Hire Scheme to Merton.

“More cycling means less congestion and air pollution, improving health.”

She said that Merton would use the negotiations to place a greater emphasis on other issues including road safety in the area.

A TFL spokesperson said: “The Mayor would certainly be keen to take Barclays Cycle Hire to other parts of London if further funding becomes available.”

She added: “It is clear that Londoners have embraced the Mayor’s flagship Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and enjoy the freedom and flexibility it gives them.”

Whether or not the extension is approved, residents can take advantage of Merton Council’s cycle safety scheme by calling 020 8545 3205 or contacting [email protected]

Follow us on @SW_Londoner

Related Articles