Wandsworth residents welcome Boris Bikes


Residents participated in a consultation process to determine where 80 bike stations are to be built.


By Robert Edwards

Over 200 Wandsworth residents have participated in a consultation process to determine where 80 new bike stations are to be built, as plans to bring the iconic cyan cycles to the borough are unveiled.

With 123 unique suggestions, the most popular locations were found to be Clapham Junction railway station and Battersea Park.

The scheme has already been met with enthusiasm, as more Londoners opt for two wheels rather than the crush of the bus and rail commute.

Councillor Russell King (Con), Wandsworth Council’s transport spokesman, said: “We had an amazing response from members of the public and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who contacted us with suggested locations. 

“Having seen how popular the bikes have been in central London, I am confident adopting the scheme in Wandsworth will ease the pressure on our roads and create space on overcrowded buses, tubes and trains.”

Barclays Cycle Hires (BCH), or ‘Boris Bikes’, have been welcomed for their environmental sustainability, good value and health benefits.

Inspired by similar schemes in Paris and Montreal, the bikes are now available for non-members to hire 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a simple card payment at any docking station.

Despite their huge popularity, BCHs have not had an easy ride.

A series of mechanical failures at docking stations, poor online and call centre support and incorrect bills have drawn criticism from some users.

At 23kg, others have found the highly durable bikes difficult to lift and manoeuvre.

The scheme received criticism from some quarters after the six year contract worth £140million to build the bikes was given to the multinational, Serco, rather than the domestic bidder, Pashley, the UK’s oldest bicycle manufacturer.

Safety concerns have also been raised, as no facility for hiring cycle helmets has been provided.

Early claims that the scheme would quickly cover its costs have been found to be false. Only £323,545 was made from journeys in the scheme’s first 96 days, and only 72,700 of the first 1.4 million journeys made any revenue.

By the end of 2010 the scheme averaged £3,370 revenue per day, owed in part to the £150 late return charge.

It is hoped the scheme’s expansion to Wandsworth and other boroughs will improve its likelihood of achieving a profit.

The bikes have drawn further controversy with their £25million sponsorship contract with Barclays.

The banking giant, which already sponsors football’s Premier League, won a five-year deal awarding it naming rights and control over the scheme’s lucrative branding space.

Business commentators have applauded Barclays’ fostering of a socially responsible image, particularly in a period of widespread public mistrust of banks.

The banking group was recently targeted by activists accusing Barclays of tax avoidance.

It was also identified as the largest contributor to the global arms sector of all UK high street banks, investing a total of £7.3billion in the industry.

Expansion of the scheme will continue into 2013. Planners hope it will alleviate pressures on London’s transport during this year’s Olympic games.

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