TfL can’t afford Santander Cycles extension to Deptford, Lewisham Council says

Santander Cycles at Victoria Park
Santander Cycles are unlikely to appear in Deptford or Greenwich soon

Transport for London does not have the money to fund an extension of its cycle hire scheme into Deptford, Lewisham Council has warned.

Lewisham and neighbouring Greenwich have both long wanted Santander Cycles to be available in their boroughs, particularly along the route of Cycleway 4 close to the Thames.

But with TfL still in a precarious financial position after the pandemic, a senior Lewisham councillor has said that the money is not there for an extension.

Along with most of southeast London, both boroughs were left out of the initial scheme when it launched in 2010. Southwark Council has used money from developers to open new docking stations in its borough, including one close to the Lewisham border at South Bermondsey station.

There also is a hire station next to the north entrance of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, part of an expansion paid for by Tower Hamlets more than a decade ago.

Asked in a written question to last week’s Lewisham Council meeting if the borough would be using cash from developers to fund an extension, its cabinet member for the environment, Louise Krupski, said: “Councillors and officers have met Transport for London on several occasions and have impressed upon them the desire for an extension of the TfL scheme into Lewisham.

“TfL have indicated that this is dependent on available funding, which they have been unable to identify at the present time due to financial constraints. The council will continue to work with TfL to explore opportunities for identifying appropriate funding sources.”

Both Lewisham and Greenwich are likely to have to follow in Southwark’s footsteps and find money from developers – either money left in the pot from schemes already built, or money to come from future projects – if they want to see the red hire bikes available in their areas.

Greenwich may find the task harder because one of its sources of income from developers – the community infrastructure levy (CIL) – is committed to paying off a £15m bill for Woolwich Crossrail station. Developers also pay less in Greenwich than than comparable boroughs, although these rates are now being reviewed.

An extension of Santander Cycles to Greenwich features in the borough’s new transport strategy, but last autumn Averil Lekau, the deputy leader, played down the possibility of it happening soon.

“Dockless bike schemes require less infrastructure than the Santander cycle hire scheme and are easier to implement at much lower cost,” she told this website.

TfL is still being bankrolled by central government as it adapts to a loss of fare income after the pandemic, with a year left to run on its most recent deal with Westminster.

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