Boris is about to launch his signature (and very expensive) cycle hire scheme. To assess what benefits this might produce I have asked TfL for some help with additional information. They seem to be taking longer than would normally be expected. I can’t help but speculate why they are taking quite so long.
Its been a big few weeks for Boris’s cycle policy. His trial cycle superhighways are now live (to mixed reviews) and on July 30th the Cycle Hire scheme goes live. If you’ve seen my previous posts you’ll see I am sceptical that the large amount of cash being spent on the scheme represents the best value for money. Indeed on the surface I can’t see any evidence that this is the case and it seems to me Cycle Hire is neat way for Boris to look like he is helping cycling whilst not enraging his core constituency of private motorists.
One way to establish the viability of the scheme would be to look at the business case for the project. This should clearly articulate the benefits, weigh them against the costs and determine whether the project is indeed worthwhile. It might (if you have the data) also help you compare it against other options that might be better (or worse) value for money. So I asked TfL for it and also any research that they held that looked at whether Cycle Hire was likely to encourage a greater degree of modal shift compared to other possible options like cycle lanes and other priority measure. Naively I thought this was a simple request. After all you either have the business case or you don’t surely? As for the other stuff it seems a fairly standard piece of research that you would have to hand to support the decision process in progressing Cycle Hire versus other measures.
I was quite surprised therefore that the request was still outstanding after 28 days and, after some prodding, TfL suggested they needed a further 10 working days to produce even a partial response. Now I am sure that there is a perfectly innocent explanation for the delay (although I wasn’t provided with one) but it does seem odd that its taking quite such a while. Perhaps they lost my intial request – who knows?
On a completely separate note I am sure Boris will be in full ribbon cutting mode on the 30th – from the two plus years he’s been in office its clearly what he likes doing best. Its a shame therefore that before that we’re not able to assess whether this really is the best use of £100M plus of taxpayers money.