Last week it was finally confirmed that Liverpool is to have its own cycle hire scheme along the lines of the Boris Bikes in London. With the roll out beginning next summer there will eventually be 1,000 bikes for hire across the city from 60 locations.
Mayor Anderson, who just a couple of weeks ago announced a 10% reduction in the price of on street parking for cars said “we believe the time is right to introduce a cycle hire scheme, to reduce reliance on the car and to offer a low carbon, low cost, healthier way to get around Liverpool”
I’m all for it of course, anything that gets more people cycling gets my metaphorical vote. I do have some reservations though.
Firstly the city centre is pretty small, an unfit person with no experience could cycle across it in 20 minutes, so if the first half an hour is free as it is in London there won’t be much income, which means the participation fee will have to be higher, which may put people off. Any expectation that this is going to pay for itself eventually should be treated with some caution.
Secondly, and more importantly, is of course the environment. Liverpool city centre is largely pedestrianised, as I understand it significant portions of the pedestrian areas do not allow cycling, or at least not during the day.
In this image the blue section is pedestrian only, the purple is pedestrian and cycle friendly
Unless cycling is permitted on Church St, Lord St and Whitechapel it won’t be attractive to many people who will expect to go door to door from shop to shop using the same routes they take by foot. The pedestrian traffic on these streets is heavy, to have any significant number of bikes on them would require cycle lanes painted up the centre of the street over the lovely new paving and for pedestrians to quickly learn not to walk in them.
More interesting still though is the red line on the image, I’m going to call this the Ring of Steel. It is a heavily trafficed barrier encircling the pedestrian zone and is extremely hostile to anyone not in a motor vehicle, even I, as a ‘fit and brave’ road warrior type, feel the danger and intimidation present on these roads. I don’t foresee many children or elderly persons or really anyone not experienced in city centre cycling attempting to breach this barricade. One can barely imagine this as a scene on Lime Street and 08:45 on a Monday
This Ring of Steel is not alone, a quick consideration of a map of Liverpool and I find many roads where I would almost consider it immoral to encourage the inexperienced and the unfamiliar to cycle
Unfortunately there is almost no way to avoid some of these roads, particularly so for people who have spent their lives in cars and know no other routes than the ones most used by cars.
Quite simply, this is just another post to say if Liverpool City Council wants the cycle hire scheme to be a success and doesn’t want to be responsible for the wholesale slaughter of Japanese and American tourists then they are going to have to man up and provide a pot load of cash to improve the infrastructure for cycling
PS. One can barely contain oneself at the prospect of seeing Mayor Anderson’s photocall for the launch of the scheme.