It's hard to miss the lickably-shiny new bicycle docking stations that have sprung up, in anticipation of the actual bikes, due on 30 July for the Transport for London, ahem, Barclays, cycle hire scheme. Or maybe it is hard to miss the docking stations around King's Cross, there doesn't seem to be many. The scheme, covering central London, aims to put 6,000 hire bikes on the road, free for the first half hour after paying a one day, one week or one year access fee. TfL haven't yet released a map of the docking stations, but thanks to lovely citizen bloggers/FoI junkies, here's a map. I've listed the stations for King's Cross (Have I missed any? And do these ones exist?):
- St Chad's Street (Gray's Inn Road end), WC1
- Calshot Street (Pentonville Road end), N1
- Ampton Street (Gray's Inn Road end), WC1
- King's Cross Road (near Great Percy Street), WC1
- Belgrove Street (Euston Road end), WC1 (This looks like the closest one to King's Cross station)
- Rodney Street (Pentonville Road end), N1
So, who is going to use these bikes the most — locals, commuters, tourists? Will it unleash several thousand inexperienced cyclists onto the streets of London, all maniacally trying to get somewhere in under thirty minutes? I've used the bikes' counterparts in Paris, so it'll be karma for me in the form of tourists wobbling on the opposite side of the road to which they're accustomed. One frustration in Paris was finding full docking stations when arriving at my destination (and then having to ride a couple of blocks away in search of a station to offload the bike). TfL may need to resort to using lorries to shuffle the bikes around, as has happened in France.
This undoubtedly pricey scheme carries a lot of risk and concern: vandalism, theft, safety (especially for novice cyclists), but the aim is a big noble one: converting a whole tranche of people to a cheap, sustainable, healthy and social form of transport. Maybe even coax a few people out of the tube. That in itself would be a good thing.