Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bush gets BorisBikes but Barclays cash questioned

Shepherd’s Bush is finally to become a member of the Boris Bike cycle hire scheme after announcements made by Boris Johnson today. Years after they launched the Mayor said today that West London was to be included with cycle ranks for the distinctive clunky bikes being sited in W12 by summer 2013.

The man himself said:

"We are now planning to swathe a huge chunk of the west of our city with our beautiful blue bikes."

Westfield will be hosting Shepherd’s Bush’s bike stands following funding from the centre, who presumably thought having people needing to come to their door to take and return the bikes made good commercial sense.

This, it has to be said, is both welcome but also long, long overdue. West Londoners have never really understood why a central London borough located in Zone 2 was considered so far away from the heartbeat of the city that they weren’t worth including in the Mayor’s much heralded “cycling revolution”.

Our Council, as you might expect, is over the moon. Responding to the news Cllr Harry Phibbs, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, says:

"Rolling out Boris bikes westwards is the best transport news the borough has enjoyed since the extension of the congestion charge was scrapped. Pedal power promises to relieve some of the pressure on our congested roads and jam-packed tubes, reduce pollution and give residents another option when choosing how to get around.

“The cycle-hire scheme will also make it easier for visitors to get to our major attractions.”

While John Griffiths, Chairman of H&F cyclists, says:

“Cycling allows you to travel much more quickly through congested roads. It is cheaper than running a car and it creates a wonderful feeling of freedom that you don’t always get on foot.”

But not everyone is convinced. In particular the LibDems at City Hall are asking some searching questions about how much Barclays, the bankers who sponsor the scheme, are actually putting in to the pot in order to get what must be the biggest brand exposure I can possibly think of. What other business is going to have its brand literally being ridden through the streets of an Olympic city in front of the world’s media, after all?

“The Mayor also needs to answer a key question - why has the sponsorship arrangement with Barclays has been so casually extended for a further three years, instead of being put out to a competitive tender when the five year contract expires in 2015?

“The Mayor is selling Londoners short by not getting the best sponsorship deal that is possible. He should not have automatically extended Barclay's sponsorship of the scheme without seeking other expressions of interest.

“Let’s not pretend for one moment that Barclays are being generous here. The current sponsorship deal is a great commercial deal for them, providing them with worldwide publicity at little relative cost. The bank is paying less than £5 million a year for this sponsorship deal and one has to question how well the Mayor and his team did in negotiating this deal. The immense amount of free publicity Barclays have received - and will receive - for sponsoring the cycle hire scheme is worth far more than this."

She has a point.

1 comment:

  1. I guess there aren't any concrete plans yet showing exactly where the bike stations will be in W12?