Alongside space for Mercs and BMWs, upscale property developer Berkeley Homes has added motorcycle and scooter bays to its list of ‘must have’ amenities at its soon-to-be-built Chelsea Bridge Wharf complex on London’s South Bank.
The property is close to Ken Livingstone’s congestion charging area. And, should any of the City types buying the £1m+ apartments, care to ditch their cars or scupper their scooters, they can unlock their upscale bicycles from the dedicated cycle storage racks and lockers being provided at the Battersea development.
Berkeley Homes may be pro-bike – the company even sponsors triathlon events – but not all cyclists are behind Ken’s congestion charging scheme.
Closet cyclist Steven Norris, for instance, is said to be dead against it. On February 16th, Norris finds out whether he’s secured the Conservative party’s vote as the Tory candidate for mayor of London. The mayoral election doesn't take place until 2004 but Norris – the current chair of the National Cycling Strategy Board for England – is already trying to score points with motorists, the great majority of whom, unsurprisingly, are agin’ the £5 charge.
Norris has let it be known that, should he become mayor, he would scrap congestion charging because it is "regressive and technically far too complex."
London bike shops disagree: most are champing at the bit, eager for the golden combination of the £5 charge and fine weather.
But, then again, Norris is a former politician, and politicians are well known for modifying their opinions depending on who they are talking to.
As well as being the Tory transport minister responsible for nodding through the national cycle strategy, he is president of the Motor Cycle Industry Association and a former director general of the Road Haulage Association.
So, where do his loyalties lie? When quizzed by the British Motorcyclists Federation, he said that “[cycling organisations] know my position and if there was a conflict then the motorcycling industry would win every time.”