Only in Croydon.
The grand opening of a cycle hub and hire scheme at East Croydon last week had to be postponed… because of a collision on George Street between a bus and a pedestrian, which saw the road closed for several hours.
No date has yet been announced for the re-arranged ceremony, though the postponement could be seen as emblematic of Croydon Council providing a town centre “hub” for cyclists without the “spokes” of dedicated and safe cycle routes to or from it.
In Croydon in recent years, the trend has been to spend millions of pounds on road schemes which have removed or reduced bike lanes, which have made cycling in the borough less inviting, and possibly less safe.
Croydon’s contradictions on cycling are numerous and confounding.
We currently have the situation of two-way cycling being arranged to and through North End by one part of the council, while another department in Fisher’s Folly is trying to make cycling along North End illegal.
Meanwhile, cycle lanes along South End, on a main north-south route through the borough, have been removed tp make way for… car parking spaces. This project was conducted under a scheme called “Connected Croydon”. We kid you not.
An experiment with a cycle Quietway along Norbury Avenue in Thornton Heath, which was supposed to run for the summer months before being properly assessed, has been adjusted within weeks of it being implemented, under pressure from car users and residents, some of whom complained of a lack of notice and flawed consultation. On a scheme from Croydon Council? Shurely shome mishtake.
Croydon Transition Town, a group which has environmental awareness at its core, including the desire to see a reduction in motor traffic through more people walking and using bicycles, have said of the cycle hub that it is a good move but, “scant regard has been paid to cyclists for decades. Croydon’s roads need to be made safer for cyclists and to separate cyclists from cars and pedestrians where possible”.
Senior figures among cycling campaigners also highlight the half-hearted efforts from the previous Tory administration when it came to tapping into London-wide funding for cycling. “The terrible shame is that the £50-million mini-Holland bid fell at the first hurdle,” they told Inside Croydon, “yet the council has spent that sum in making cycling harder in places like South End and no easier elsewhere in the town, for example the repaving of George Street without ‘space for cycling’.
“What a waste, as Ian Dury put it.”
So central Croydon will soon have a cycle hub, positioned just across from borough’s hipster heartbeat, Boxpark, but without any segregated cycle routes leading to it or from it.
The hub has an accompanying Brompton hire dock, largely because the Boris Bike scheme operated by London’s Zone 1 Tory Mayor has never been extended to the capital’s outer reaches.
The hub is positioned across George Street from East Croydon Station, because that’s the nearest piece of council-owned land available.
Clearly, the various developers building alongside the station could not be persuaded to do the community responsible thing and provide a modest slice of their land. We ought not be surprised after the shambles of the £24 million Bridge to Nowhere, which lacks the originally intended exit on to the Cherry Orchard Road side of the railway lines, where Menta is developing its “executive apartments”.
The hub will be handy for Croydon College students, though, and provides free covered cycle parking for 80 bikes, similar to that provided at rail terminuses in central London. The Brompton hire dock will house eight folding bikes for hire. There will also be a cycle work station for carrying out small repairs and a cycle pump.
The hub has been jointly funded by the council and Transport for London.
The Brompton Bike Hire dock requires a simple registration at bromptonbikehire.com, before being able to reserve bikes via both web and SMS. The dock is part of a nationwide network, with plans for 10 more docking stations in central London over the next 12 months. There is no limit on hire duration, which charges £2.50 per 24-hour hire.
One of Croydon Labour’s newest councillors, Robert Canning, the deputy cabinet member for transport and environment, was certainly making the right noises, if suffering slightly from the “vision thing”.
“As a key part of our transport vision, the council is passionate about encouraging more people to cycle,” he said before the postponed launch. “Providing facilities such as this fantastic new cycle hub and hire station will help achieve this.”
A few more safer cycle routes might just help in that regard, too.
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