Looking at the first year of London’s bike-share program

Twelve months into the program, Barclays Cycle Hire (UK) has racked up some impressive statistics, but critics say that the program is not a reliable commuting option. The program has 6,000 bicycles (often called “Boris bikes” in reference to Mayor of London Boris Johnson) at docking stations throughout central London, and users can unlock the bikes with a credit or debit card. To encourage short trips, the first 30 minutes are free. The system has accounted for about 6 million trips in its first year, with only 12 thefts and fewer than 100 accidents. The downside, seen in other bicycle-sharing programs, is the highly spiked demand. According to The Guardian:

The bikes make 20,000 journeys a day, but in a relentlessly predictable pattern, with huge spikes during the morning rush hour at the major rail stations and then again, in reverse, as commuters dash back to catch their evening trains.

This means that riders cannot always find a bike when they want one or cannot find a docking station when their trip is done. “We can’t guarantee that you will be able to find a bike or be able to dock it,” Kulveer Ranger, the mayor’s director of environment and digital London, told The Guardian. “The bus network can carry 6.5 million people a day, the tube 4.5 million, but there are only a few thousand bikes, so not all Londoners are going to get them when they want them. If you have to make an urgent meeting, you’ve got to think, ‘This scheme does not do it for me.’ But it does work when I’m relaxed and I want to make a journey.” Link to full story in The Guardian.

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