Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Doubling of Boris Bike Fares from 2 January 2013 - DISASTROUS move by Boris Johnson and TfL

EDIT (25/4/13) - As predicted... Boris Bike rentals drop by a third in the first three months of 2013 (and that's despite an overall increase in the total number of journeys made by bike in London, and large amounts of 'cycling publicity' caused by our new Cycling Commisioner)

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From 2 January 2013 daily access to the London Cycle Hire Scheme will double from £1 to £2, weekly access from £5 to £10, and yearly access from £45 to £90.

This is an absolutely atrocious move by Boris Johnson and TfL at just the point when cycling in London generally, and usage of the Boris Bikes, seems to be on the rise.

As this blog has previously argued, one of the principle advantages of the London Cycle Hire Scheme (if not the principal advantage) is the low cost of renting a Boris Bike, making it in almost all situations the cheapest way of getting around London short of walking.

Increasing the charge for access fees by 100% - while bus and tube fares rise by only 4.2% - will completely destroy London Cycle Hire's position as the cheapest form of transport in London, and make single bus and tube journeys, in certain situations, a cheaper way for a Londoner to get from A to B than renting a Boris Bike.

Similarly, raising the price of annual subscriptions will make it much harder to woo new members to the scheme and may convince many existing customers (like myself) to choose not to renew their membership next year.

Yearly membership to London Cycle Hire to double from £45 to £90 from January 2nd 2013.
While their might be a very slight uptake is usage from certain sections of the upper-middle classes that will inevitably see a more expensive product as worth buying simply on account of its higher price, the overall and unavoidable effect of this price hike will be to further to cement an image of cycling that is centered on the rich, white, middle class.

This is exactly what cycling shouldn't be.

Cycling is the cheapest, greenest, and healthiest mode of transport known to man. It should therefore be associated with all social groups, especially lower-income segments of the population.

Instead Boris Johnson and TfL's latest decision will only further entrench a completely unnecessary and invalid view of cycling that is restricted to 'lyrca-louts' and 'arsehole-bankers'.

Moreover, if the doubling of rental costs results in a dip in Boris Bike usage, this fare increase could very well lead to an increase in cycling deaths and fatalities in London.

Over the past few years large numbers of Boris Bikes in Central London have helped to calm traffic and make the streets safer for everyone. This benefit to all Londoners that choose to cycle (or walk) will be lost if Cycle Hire usage declines.

This blog has championed Boris Johnson's efforts in the past, but this fare increase is idiotic, incompetent.

Worse, it will in any case be ineffectual, since too few Londoners use the Boris Bike scheme to contribute anywhere near the billions of pounds needed for the continuing tube upgrade (and £180 million which the new routemasters cost). The fiscal burden should instead be borne by the tax payer, and tube and bus users themselves.

If you believe that the planned price rises are ridiculous and cretinous, please feel free to drop Barclays Cycle HireBoris Johnson, and TfL an email and let them know your thoughts.

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Please see also similar responses from The Evening Standard, I love Boris Bikes, and The Telegraph on this issue.