The transformation of my local street into cycling nirvana continues. An intermittent blue stripe along Bow Road is nearing completion, so the official launch of Cycle Superhighway 2 can't be too many months away. And now there's a first public nudge towards the eastward extension into Tower Hamlets of Boris's Cycle Hire scheme. A full planning application has been published for a docking station outside Bow Road station. Watch the pavement, there's a bright blue bikerack on its way.
It's going to be one of the larger docking stations, this, with 42 spaces for BorisBikes lined up along the pavement. On the left of the tube station entrance as you emerge, it'll be, running down past the cash machine towards Wellington Way. Nip off the train, shove your token in the slot, and you can ride the great white bicycle all the way home.
It takes a 40 page document to support the planning application for a single Cycle Hire docking station. Most of that's generic ("docking points outnumber bicycles by 70-80%" blah blah "sites must retain a minimum clear footway of at least 2m in width" blah blah "docking points are constructed from cast aluminium with a powder coated finish and a clear graffiti resistant coating"). Much of it is reassuring ("Each docking station is inspected by maintenance staff a minimum of every 14 days... The noise generated by these activities not anticipated to cause any disturbance"). And only on page 33 do we get down to any location-based specifics ("The footway on which the site is located is approximately between 6.0 and 13 metres wide. Adjacent to the site are two lamp columns, one bollard, a free standing ATM unit, six cycle stands and several service covers"). It's all terribly thorough, with due reference to Conservation Areas, vehicular sight lines, visual permeability and "cohesive streetscape character".
Somebody gets paid to write this stuff, you know, purely so that the general public can ignore it and the entire project can get built anyway. I only noticed yesterday, when I spotted a laminated notice stuck to the roundel outside the tube station. Want to complain? Too late, the consultation period ended last night. Really E3, all these documents are in the public domain, we're simply not paying enough attention. But don't worry, it'll all be good here, won't it?
Just up the road, Bow Church station is scheduled to get a much bigger docking station. It'll be almost twice the size, with space for 77 bikes, and will stretch out along a full 60 metres of existing footway (starting beyond the Bow Bells pub). We're lucky along Bow Road that some of our pavements are massive, so planners have taken advantage of this and nicked some of it for bikes. Two metres width has been taken for a brief elevated cycle path - painted blue this very week, and starting to be used by curious westbound cyclists. Now it seems another two metres is to be taken for the storage of dozens and dozens of BorisBikes. The residents of St Mary's Court used to step out onto a spacious pavement, but they're all going to have to learn to share with speeding and static bicycles. Want to complain? Too early, the official documents haven't been released yet.
This Bow Church docking station is due to be the second biggest Cycle Hire facility in the whole of Tower Hamlets. A larger one is planned for the very bottom of the Isle of Dogs, presumably for the benefit of those wandering in/out the borough through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. I can only guess that the Bow Church facility is huge for a similar reason - it's the last docking station on the A11 before you reach Stratford and the Olympic Park. But quite how many bike spaces do we need in the immediate vicinity? 42 at Bow Road station, 77 at Bow Church, and another 37 inbetween up Kitcat Terrace. That's space for more than 150 Boris Bikes, which is a greater capacity than the megadock at Waterloo station, even though Bow's nothing more than a suburban outpost.
Like I say, the transformation of my local street into cycling nirvana continues. My apologies if your London neighbourhood appears to have been simultaneously wholly overlooked. But it'll be interesting to see whether or not my local community chooses to take full advantage.