I went along to a Council committee meeting on Tuesday evening which discussed, among other things, cycling. I welcomed the support in the Draft Cycling Strategy for more Boris Bike docking stations.
“The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme was introduced to central London in July 2010. The scheme was expanded into Hammersmith and Fulham in December 2013 and there are now a total of 60 docking stations in the Borough.
“The data held for usage of these docking stations confirms the popularity and demand for such a service with an increase from 27,000 uses in January 2014 to 78,000 by July 2014. TfL do not currently have any plans to expand the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme within the Borough. However the Council would like to see the scheme expanded to cover other parts of the Borough and will work with TfL to advocate for this approach. The Council will continue to seek funding via development contributions to support the expansion of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme within the Borough.”
Back in 2012 the then opposition Labour councillors tabled a motion at a council meeting which demanded “all possible measures to block” the expansion of “the Conservative London Mayor’s pet project.” In a blog the then Labour opposition leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said the Council’s backing for the scheme “stinks.” Cllr Cowan added that the council should not have “anything to do with the recently discredited Barclays Bank” whose £50 million London-wide sponsorship has been crucial. Cllr Lisa Homan, another Labour councillor, complained that “many of those who use the Boris Bikes do so for fun”.
Anyway it is welcome that there is now cross party support for extending the scheme.
There was a more general discussion about encouraging cycling. Two big concerns that must put people off are that their bicycle will be stolen and that they don’t feel safe.
In terms of bicycle theft there is some good news. The figures show a 17 per cent reduction in the past year. 575 bikes were stolen compared to 696 the previous year. The worst ward for bike thefts was Hammersmith Broadway with 77, the fewest thefts was in North End Ward with 17. The Hammersmith and Fulham Police are to be commended for taking this crime more seriously.
But so far as accidents are concerned the news is less encouraging. If we look at the figures for 2013 that shows in our borough there were 13 serious accidents for cyclists and 153 slight accidents so 166 altogether. We haven’t got the full figures for 2014 yet but for January to September there were already 12 serious and 137 slight accidents making a total of 149. So it would seem very likely that there will be an increase in accidents on the full year figures.
On the other hand the average risk involved must take into whether the amount of cycle journeys has gone up or down.
Chris Bainbridge, the Head of Transport Policy and Network Management for the Council tells me:
“In 2003 we recorded 13,408 cyclists in a day (7am-7pm) at our 11 count sites. In 2010 the number was 19,234, an increase of 42% . In 2013, the latest year for which we have figures, there was a slight decline (4%) from the 2010 figure, to 18,517. However, that was still 38% higher than in 2003.”
So maybe cycling has not got any less safe in the past year as the increase in accidents reflects the increased number of cyclists. Given the introduction of Boris Bikes noted above that would seem quite possible.
Suppose we have around 19,000 cyclists a day taking a journey in Hammersmith and Fulham. If you use your bike every day the risk of having your bike stolen over the course of the year is three per cent. The risk of an accident is probably just under one per cent. So those figures are low but they are still too high and we need to find sensible practical ways to reduce them.