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Eco friendly cycling scheme could be the death of us, warn traders

PUBLISHED: 15:17 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:24 07 September 2010

Sanchez Manning PLANS to bring a popular French cycle hire scheme to St John s Wood have been criticised by traders who say it poses a threat to their businesses. The Velib bicycle rental programme was successfully launch-ed in Paris in July 2007 and now

Sanchez Manning

PLANS to bring a popular French cycle hire scheme to St John's Wood have been criticised by traders who say it poses a threat to their businesses.

The Velib bicycle rental programme was successfully launch-ed in Paris in July 2007 and now Transport for London (TfL) is attempting to bring the scheme to London.

Last month, TfL submitted 136 applications to the council to build a network of docking stations across Westminster, including ones in Edgware Road, Marylebone, St John's Wood and Regent's Park.

But shop owners in St John's Wood say the proposal for 16 docking points in the high street could put their already struggling businesses under threat. Michael Butterworth, joint owner of Tiddlywinks children's clothes shop, said the bicycles will take up already oversubscribed parking spaces used by shoppers.

"If they take more bays away it's going to make it more difficult for traders to do business," he said. "We pay Westminster an extortionate amount of council tax and they're taking our living away by taking away the bays.

"If people don't have anywhere to park they'll just go to other shopping centres like Westfield."

Richard Boiling, manager of nearby Jeroboams wine shop, said he was in favour of the environmental benefits of the scheme, but agreed that it could spell disaster for his store.

He said: "There's not enough parking already and 99 per cent of the time there's a warden on the high street, so if they take away spaces it's going to create havoc."

Local residents have also expressed doubts about the scheme.

Dr Mina Bajomo said she cycled all the time when she lived in Holland, but says that since moving to St John's Wood she has ditched her bike for fear of the roads.

"Before they start trying to get people to cycle they need to create cycle paths so you're not battling with the traffic," she said.

Westminster planning bosses have already given the go-ahead for TfL to erect 34 docking stations and will decide about those proposed for St John's Wood High Street on September 24. On August 6 they sent out a letter to the owners of premises along the high street, including Mr Butterworth, inviting them to raise any objections they have to the plans within 21 days.

A TfL spokeswoman said that it had worked closely with Westminster planning officers to determine the best locations for the docking stations.

She said: "On the basis of those discussions, we have submitted 136 planning applications to the council.

"These applications are subject to planning consent, and include a period of consultation. Westmin-ster Council, as the planning authority, will make the final decision on whether to approve this location.


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