Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cycle hire stats: More "cyclists" than "motorists" who live in the City of London

A total of 1,000 City residents have already signed up for the Boris bike / cycle hire scheme.I know this because I was kindly allowed a glimpse at some data from TfL. 

That's a whopping percentage, considering there are only 9,300 residents in the City of London. According to this document here, approximately 1,000 of those residents are aged between 0 - 17. Given that the scheme isn't available to people under the age of 14, let's assume that the total population of the City that is eligible to use the humble Boris bike is around 8,500 people. So, one in eight and a bit people who lives in the City of London has taken up the cycle hire scheme. That's a stonking large percentage in such a short amount of time. 

To put that in context, if you look at the 2001 census results here, only 1,400 households in the City own one car. And 230 households own two or more cars. 

I think it wouldn't be too fantastical to assume that maybe a further 500 people who live in the City also own bicycles. So let's say 1,500 people who live in the City of London are therefore classifiable as "cyclists". Well, I think that's giving the people who live in the City of London and are classified as "motor-owning households" by the census a bit of a run for their money. 

The question is, then, why is the City still such a motor-centric place? Could it be anything to do with the fact that motor vehicles are simply bigger, noisier, pushier and take up more space on the road? Or could it be because City politicians think bicycles and motor vehicles should fight it out for space on the road? Our City politicians, even those that are not averse to cycling, still think that competition for road space can be conveniently fought over, day by day, by people on their bicycles, literally battling for space on the road against motor vehicles. See here for evidence of that thinking. In Paris, their politicians are pretty clear about who should win the competition for road space. They want to prioritise the bicycle, as you can see here. And they're prepared to make cycling spaces to do that. And to take road space away from motor vehicles too. Rather than in the City, where they take space away from pedestrians or sort of squeeze you in to a standard traffic lane. Compare a Paris cycle lane here or a New York cycle lane here with what we get in London.