Friday, 30 July 2010

London's new bike hire scheme

There were schemes like this in Japanese cities 20 years ago!

London bike hire story link here.

They need bigger baskets plus a luggage rack on the back. How easy will it be to find a docking station when you want to get rid of the bike?

The bike hire system in Sakata had bright yellow bikes, which were otherwise normal 'sit up and beg' Japanese bikes. The old Jusco department store opposite the station was the depot. You signed the bike out but it was free! Bikes like those (in other colours) could be bought new for about £50 - the basic, very common school/work commuter bike - they were so cheap, there was no incentive for anyone to steal one (I expect a second hand bike would be practically worthless). All the railway stations had covered bike sheds, not the open racks we have here, so your bike stayed fairly dry and, because they weren't worth stealing, no one ever locked them either.

Biggest problem with the hire bikes was the 'one size fits all' idea, like with the London scheme. After bikes had been on the racks for a while, the seat adjusters seized up and wouldn't work. I made sure I got no.12 every time, as the seat height was just right for me!

I'm not likely to use the London cycle hire scheme though. In Japan, cyclist and pedestrians share the same cycleway/pavement/sidewalk, on a level with the road but separated by raised kerbs, so other traffic can't get into your space. Much safer than cycle lanes that have no real physical barrier. I hope there won't be too many accidents with the London scheme, but driving a car in central London is bad enough if you are not used to the volume of traffic and don't know the route well - I wouldn't want to try it out on a bike.


shigatsuhana said...

Hmmm... I tend to agree with you. There are just too many cars on the road in London and too many chances for mishaps. It was refreshing to be in Amsterdam last week where cyclists rule. Amsterdam is very flat and there aren't very many cars around. Although cyclists there don't always obey the rules so as a pedestrian you'd better be looking over your shoulder every time you want to move. LOL! Cycle path and Psychopath sound alike for a reason there. ;)

Lis said...

Just seen Boris (you gotta love that man) on The One Show talking about the scheme. Sounds like a good idea until you realise what London roads are like, then it's quite scary! It does show willing though which is to be praised.

Susan Briscoe said...

Yes, it's something I'd be very interested in doing if I weren't so worried about getting splatted!

I get just as mad about inconsiderate cyclists as I do about motorists too.

Mixing cyclists (well behaved) with pedestrians is much less risky than with heavy traffic.

I'm an ex cyclist - the hills round here have finished me off!

Woolly Bits said...

it's just as bad over here in ireland - I think the irish motorists haven't noticed yet that there are still a few pedestrians and cyclists around:) you'd have to be a courier to be mad enough to drive a bike in dublin inner city! pity really - though what I'd fancy even more - is a nice riksha service:))

Yvonne Morgan said...

My friends who cycle regularly in London are concerned that this scheme will encourage wobbly, worried novices into the roads with possible nasty consequences. One friend was knocked off her bike by a pedestrian and ended up needing surgery on her badly broken arm.

Susan Briscoe said...

Hi Yvonne,

I agree - some people who haven't been on a bike in years shouldn't be encouraged to hop on one of these hire bikes and wobble off onto main roads!

They look like they are quite heavy and will handle completely differently to modern road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids etc. too.