Archive for the ‘Boris Bikes’ Category

Following the money: how does Boris Johnson’s TfL value cycling?

June 27, 2011

Transport for London have this week published their Annual Report, Statement of Accounts and Commissioner’s Report. This avalanche of financial data provides an excellent opportunity to get a sense of their priorities.

The documents contain funding information about Cycle Superhighways, Barclays Cycle Hire, Biking Boroughs and the Community Cycling Grant. Unless otherwise stated, all figures below are for the financial year 10/11.

Biking Boroughs

This flagship program appeals to the Mayor’s core Outer London constituents by providing funding to “harness the huge appetite that already exists for cycling in Outer London”.

Boris Johnson says, “My cycling revolution continues and I am determined to help more residents of outer London to take to two wheels. “

The numbers say:

Vive la Révolution

But maybe I’m being unfair. After all, I’m comparing the Biking Boroughs budget to huge projects, like the London Overground and the TfL PR machine.

How does it stack up against smaller items?

Kingston: His name is Rob Holden if you're looking to borrow a fiver.

Cycling Community Grant

These are grants funded by TfL to “fund events or start projects which promote the benefits of cycling”.

Boris Johnson says‘”This is all about helping the smaller cycling groups within London to pass on their enthusiasm for cycling to local people.”

The numbers say:

Just pension, not salary

Perhaps this is too harsh. After all, these are small grants but there must be hundreds of them, right? Unfortunately, no. There are 25 in total – less than one per borough.

Cycle Superhighways

These are part of the Mayor’s vision for a “cleaner, greener, safer city, where you have a cycling revolution.”

Boris Johnson says: “These radial routes are set to transform our great city into one where cycling is the first choice for many thousands of Londoners.”

The numbers say:

But £6.7m sounds great in a press release

Curious that the Bounds Green central reservation hasn’t had 5 times as much marketing as the Superhighways, as well as funding.

Barclays Cycle Hire

There has been some investment in Cycle Hire this year, but the London Assembly notes that the scheme is designed to break even over three years (p8 – although it looks like it will take a little longer). Just another example of how TfL doesn’t see cycling as a proper form of transport like trains and buses and cars, which all receive huge amounts of public money (yes, even cars).

Assuming TfL do hit their targets, the Cycle Hire balance sheet will look as follows over a three-year period.

Not accounting for inflation

Figures and sources for all of the above here (.xlsx).

With investment like this, is anyone actually surprised that London’s cycling revolution never happened?

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Boris Bikes – A geeky take

February 16, 2011

Image by EG Focus. Shared under a Creative Commons license.

Boris Bikes have been confounding me recently. And it seems I’m not the only one. (And the issues are not new…)

Crossrider has done a good job of explaining the continual frustration of the process of trying to liberate a bike from its apparently beloved docking station. However, because I’m a bit of a VBA geek, I thought I’d try to put this into an algorithm to show just many opportunities Boris and his bicycles present for failure:

Sub GetBorisBike()
    For Each Bike In Rack

        'Check Bike:
        If FrontWheel.Flat = True Then Next Bike
        If BackWheel.Flat = True Then Next Bike
        Lift (BackWheel)
        If BackWheel.Spins = False Then Next Bike
        Lower (BackWheel)
        If SeatPost.Adjusts = False Then Next Bike
        If SeatPost.Secures = False Then Next Bike

        'Secure Luggage Outside 30 Min Window
        'With Stupid Little Bands
        Secure (Satchel)

        'Attempt to remove bike

        Enter (Key)
        If Light = Red Then
            If MyPatience.EndOfFile = False Then
                Next Bike
            Else 'If all else fails
                GetBus
            End If
        End If
    Next
End Sub

However, I’m not very good at writing efficient code. I tried running the above through a compiler, and it was able to make it significantly more concise:


Sub GetBorisBike()
    GetBus
End Sub

Fortunately, at least, the London Bus Network is “reliable, quick, convenient, comfortable, easy to use and affordable”.

Image by Judy **. Shared under a Creative Commons license.