Last year Johnson introduced an ambitious cycling programme, including 12 so-called cycle superhighways. Blue bicycle lanes would make it easier for commuters to travel from the suburbs to the town centre. At approximately the same time the rental bike was introduced in the capital. Although the initial data of rental bike use are promising, the Transport Committee - a parliamentary fact-finding commission - made quite a number of critical remarks concerning the initial results.
It is positive that 20 per cent of the 1300 residents filling out a questionnaire indicated that they have started cycling thanks to this initiative. And 80 per cent feel the project is worth the money. Currently 15,000 trips are made daily on rental bikes. Eventually the London objective is 40,000 trips a day and there is a good hope this will be realised in the long term now occasional users may rent a bike as well, in addition to subscription holders. The aim of enticing five per cent of motorists to switch to cycling is not yet in sight. Currently less than one per cent of car journeys is being replaced by a rental bike journey.
Financially matters are not going smoothly either. Although Barclays is hailed as a major contributor, London has so far only managed to pocket 1.9 million pounds of the 18 million pounds required annually. In addition there is a lot of criticism regarding a shortage of bicycles at some rental locations and problems with customer service.
The upgraded cycling network, an investment of 166 million pounds, is so far not a resounding success, according to the Transport Committee. Eventually this is to generate an additional 120,000 bicycle journeys, but the two pilot superhighways are attracting 5000 cyclists a day, and one per cent of those interviewed indicate having taken up cycling because of the cycling superhighways. And 60 per cent say they do not feel any safer on the blue lanes.