Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is it Lockup or Lockout?

The Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has decreed the bikes in London’s 6,000 bike-sharing program, scheduled for operation a year from now, will not have auxiliary locks to tie up the bikes away from the 400 docking stations, according to Times Online. Contrary to original reports, Johnson will allow the use of a renter’s own lock, but will discourage it.

A project spokesperson said, “The use of locks will not be banned. The bikes will not have locks fitted as the purpose of the scheme is to keep the bikes in constant use so as many people as possible can use them. There will be a docking station at around every 300 metres in the cycle hire scheme area, so people who want to use or lock up the bikes will not be more than 150 metres or a two-minute walk from a docking station at any time.”

The Bike-sharing Blog wants to know what you think. Should all bike-share bikes come with auxiliary locks or should the user be totally responsible? Please use the comment link below. We want to hear from you.

Russell Meddin

image credit: Transport for London


Unknown said...

I think it's psychological. There's some sense of comfort to know that you could lock it up if you wanted to.

David said...

I support not having locks if the stations are closely spaced and cover a large area. It seems counter-intuitive to many people, but for the system to work best it needs to encourage people to return the bikes to stations when they are not being used rather than the bikes being idle elsewhere.

I also noted this when I blogged about the new Taipei bike hire system. One commenter disagreed.

ramonchu said...

you have to have locks on the bikes. what are people supposed to do when they're on a bike and they stop to run into a store for a second on the way to their final destination/station???

No one is encouraged to keep the bikes because of the lock; the disincentive from the increasing pricing periods is what keeps the bikes in the system (frankly, I doubt most people even realize there's a lock on most SmartBikes). Unless you dont have this traditional pricing they in London?

Without the lanyard-style locks, you gain no increase in accessibility to bikes, only an increased risk of people strolling off with the bikes when they see them leaned up against a store window. Just doesn't make sense.

Der Burgermeister said...

Unfortunately, it's just not feasible. The added expense of locks would outweigh the extra occasional charge, and the liability of having a lanyard cut is simply too high.

While I cannot disagree with the convenience factor, the principle strength of a 3rd generation system is inventory control. Compromising this is neither in the spirit of bike sharing nor fiscally responsible.