London’s bike share operation has survived ten—often controversial—years to reach a size and influence unthinkable when it took its first, uncertain ride.
For a while there was concern whether it would stay upright without training wheels, but now it is thriving.
Today the Transport for London (TfL) scheme has more than 12,000 bikes at 781 docking stations.
And another 1,700 new bikes are currently on order for the fleet.
TfL introduced cycle hire to Londoners with 350 docking stations across eight London boroughs on 30 July 2010.
The scheme has led a revolution in cycling in the capital, offering Londoners flexible and affordable access to bikes across the city
"We are delighted that this summer there has been record-breaking demand for our Santander Cycles* and we are capitalising on this by adding new docking stations, cycle hire hubs and bikes, which will make it even more convenient for Londoners to take to two wheels”, Lod Mayor Sadiq Khan said.
*Formerly known as Barclays Cycle Hire and often referred to as Boris Bikes after then-Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, introduced them during his tenure.
Cycling in London has more than doubled since 2000 and bike share has been at the forefront of the boom over the last decade, contributing to the largest increase in cycling in London since records began.
By offering flexible and inexpensive access to bikes across the city, cycle hire has made it easy for Londoners and visitors to the capital to give cycling a try. More than half of cycle hire users in London today say they started cycling because of the scheme.
Now, the coronavirus pandemic has placed bike share in an even more crucial role within London transport.
TfL data shows that cycling has increased significantly during the lockdown period and beyond, as Londoners turn to Santander Cycles for commuting and leisure.
More than 85,000 new members have signed up to the scheme since March—a 200% increase on the same period last year—contributing to more than 2.3m hires throughout May and June.
Previously, the scheme had never surpassed more than 50,000 hires on a normal workday, a record that has now been broken 13 times over the last seven weeks, with its busiest ever week with 363,000 hires between 25 - 31 May.
Throughout the pandemic the scheme has supported key workers by offering free access codes for NHS staff.
More than 60,000 free journeys have been made since the NHS offer was made available in March, with the most popular location for code redemption close to St Thomas's Hospital.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: "We are determined to ensure that the capital's recovery from coronavirus is healthy and sustainable - enabling more people to cycle is absolutely central to this.
"London's cycle hire initiative has been a fantastic success story and over the past decade we have seen this flagship scheme go from strength-to-strength.
"We are delighted that this summer there has been record-breaking demand for our Santander Cycles and we are capitalising on this by adding new docking stations, cycle hire hubs and bikes, which will make it even more convenient for Londoners to take to two wheels.
"Our world-leading Streetspace for London programme is also making it safer and easier to cycle in our city - more than 40km of new or upgraded cycle lanes have been built or are under construction, along with 16,000 square metres of extra pavement space."
TfL is also working closely with local boroughs to rapidly create space for cycling across the city, as part of the Streetspace plan.
This includes building a strategic network for cycling in London, transforming town centres and reducing traffic on residential streets.
The bikes can be hired from as little as £2 a day for an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.