Help MPs to get cycling in London

Boris Bike number 15547

There are no Cycle Hire docking stations near the Houses of Parliament. But there ought to be. If MPs – and peers – started to use so-called Borisbikes they would better appreciate what cyclists in London experience every day.

In a round-robin email Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Director of Environment & Digital London, said:

“Many Parliamentarians have raised the issue of having a Barclays Cycle Hire docking station near to the Palace of Westminster.  Therefore, I am pleased to inform you of the proposals for a docking station planned in Westminster on Abingdon Green. This is located directly opposite the House of Lords.  A planning application has been submitted to Westminster City Council by Transport for London and I am writing to ask for your support to ensure it is delivered.

I apologise for the short notice, but if you would like to support the installation of the docking station at Abingdon Green, here is the link to the online application with suggested text if you want to add comments. Comments can be submitted until Sunday 27 November 2011.”

And here’s the boilerplate text that could be placed in the comments section:

I support the installation of a Cycle Hire docking station in this location as it may get parliamentarians to use bicycles for short-distance travel in London. There is currently a lack of available docking stations in the immediate vicinity of the Palace of Westminster and this location will provide a solution for this gap in the scheme network. It will encourage more cycling among those who live and work in the surrounding area and would also be useful for tourists.

The link above has long list of documents supporting the application, including this wonderfully evocative archeological assessment of the site.

Last year, Sir George Young, Leader of the Commons said: “I would encourage all MPs and peers to try them, and if they enjoy cycling, to go on to purchase their own bikes. There’s no faster, cheaper or greener way to get round.”

Currently, the nearest docking station is a wee walk away from the Palace of Westminster.

Demands for a docking station nearer to Parliament were led by Lord Butler, the former Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service.

Lord Butler has cycled throughout his 30 years in government. He told the Evening Standard that he and his wife often used the “brilliant” Cycle Hire bikes.

Lord Butler, who wrote a report on the intelligence surrounding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, said of TfL’s iconic bikes:

“I use them about once a week. My wife uses them two or three times a week. What we very often use them for is going out in the evening. You can go one way and come back by cab or bus.”

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said:

“The Barclays bike scheme is excellent – but there are holes in it. One is at Parliament, so MPs, who we want to champion cycling, cannot use them to get to work. We must fix this!”

Via a points-of-interest menu, the Bike Hub cycle satnav app has location details for all of the current Cycle Hire docking stations. The free app routes cyclists on back streets and via cycle tracks. It is available for Android and iPhone.

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