Global warming remains a pertinent issue in the world today. It becomes even more relevant in vast metropolis environments such as London, which has recently tried to kill the two birds of environmental wellbeing and rising obesity rates with one cycling scheme, er, stone.
However, as laudable as a city–wide programme such as the BarclaysCycle bike rental programme is, it has had its critics in its first few months of operation.
The scheme, launched by London mayor Boris Johnson, allows cyclists in the capital to gain access to one of the distinctive turquoise bikes from as little as £1. It has largely been incident-free but there have been inevitable teething troubles which have resulted in some injuries, none of which have been fatal.
A report by the London Evening Standard found that in the two months between the end of July and the end of September, there were 34 reports of ‘incidents’ involving the so-called ‘Boris’ bikes,’ 13 of which required a call to the emergency services.
The most notable of these included a seven year old boy who narrowly avoided a serious head injury when one of the docking stations tipped towards him after being hit by a car, as well as a man who was ‘squashed’ between a kerb and a lorry while riding.
Photographer David Ellis, 37, spoke to the Standard after being dragged under the wheels of a trailer whilst out cycling. The irony is that the trailer was being used to transport some of the Barclays bikes from one docking station to another.
He’s not the only one to fall foul of these trailers: a female cyclist was also knocked off her bike by one of the ‘ludicrous’ vehicles, which are towed by an electric vehicle narrower than the trailers themselves.
A spokesman for CTC, one of the UK’s most prominent cyclists’ groups, said that more needed done to improve safety in London, which typically sees around 10 of its cyclists killed or injured each and every day (according to RoSPA).
He thinks that speed limits should be lowered and the ‘Cycle Superhighways’ need to be more than just stripes of blue paint on dangerous bus lanes.
Another campaigner, Ray Sadri of LondonSays, thinks that subscribers to the scheme should have a high-quality cycle helmet as part of the deal, arguing that they ‘resent having to fork out £30 on average for a decent helmet.’
Despite the obvious need for improvements (a motto that could applied to nearly any business or programme anywhere) there is no doubt that the idea has been a success.
A spokeswoman for Transport for London, who run the scheme, said “Despite the fact that over 1.6 million Barclays Cycle Hire journeys have been made since the launch of the scheme almost four months ago, we had just 10 reports of users being injured while using the bikes during the first 11 weeks of operation.”
Source: Evening Standard