London’s first e-bike scheme sees streets made greener

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Carshalton and Wallington is the northernmost borough of London

A stream of objects is quickly dropping into a brown bag at Carshalton Park Station in London.

At first it appears to be a computer chip and then a fake Christmas tree on the Tube.

Up in the trees is cardboard and a whole heap of reusable plastic bags.

“Ten billion of them are used every year,” says Charon Hannis, managing director of Raphael, which organises the Britain & Ireland Bike Fest.

“The Bicycle Stewards scheme has told us that we’ve created a net positive in terms of keeping space out of the environment.”

But there’s a message here as well.

Investing in bicycles, not cars, is an efficient way to reduce pollution and carbon dioxide.

The bottleneck at Carshalton Park Station is part of an ambitious scheme to catch the entire 10.4-mile (16km) route from Croydon to Carshalton from the road.

Carshalton & Wallington Borough Council says it’s the first such scheme in the UK.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 200 metre line ends at Carshalton Park Station in London

“We wanted to look at the whole length of the line,” the council’s Daniel Opper says.

“Bikes are the most effective way of getting across the whole line and we want people to be spending more time moving in urban areas by cycling.

“With a huge proportion of London commuters riding single-track routes and a huge proportion of London buses lacking dedicated cycle lanes, the target is to move at least 1,000 more cycles across the road each day.”

Moving it this way is expensive.

The plan is to use “pitch”, on-street removal of rubbish, to get a car off the street each hour. That means 650 full-time jobs at £9,000 a week.

But it’s work well worth doing. Cycling communities in Europe are beginning to play a key role in helping authorities look at how to move around cities more efficiently and stop congestion.

“You can’t make Europe an electric, zero-emission Europe without people riding two wheels,” says Dutch cyclist Juergen Hefren.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Timing the curb-side movement of bikes helps avoid the need for travel disruption

If you’re already an avid bike commuter, probably you’ve read about potholes or about cycling in London.

But what if you’re new to the bike scene?

Bike shedding makes it easy for you to explore the city without having to worry about where to go for your next journey.

Unlike train carriages or buses, there’s no need to pack more than you need.

There’s also less risk of getting tied up in the carriage or becoming stuck on a crowded bus.

So what about the new row of bikes that you’ll see around the tracks soon?

Photographers have been out documenting the scheme before it starts in earnest in June.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The 500 plan has helped thousands of bikes get across the roads of Croydon and Carshalton

Mike Salavance from University College London says there’s “no right or wrong” way to invest in bicycles, but for now the £50 million scheme is likely to be successful.

“It’s important for everyone to feel safe cycling across London and this means making it convenient, secure and quick,” he says.

“It’s a good design, but I’m hoping it will be successful. This is going to set an example for other cities and other countries to follow.”

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