Cycle Hire sign-up rate falls to just 800 in December

The number of new cycle hire members fell every month between April and December 2011, according to official Transport for London and City Hall figures.

In April 2011, 4,105 new members joined the scheme but by December just 800 new cyclists signed-up. During the same period the number of cycle hires by casual users remained broadly consistent.

Source: Mayoral answer to Question No: 206 / 2012

Mayor Boris Johnson says despite the fall in new sign-ups, the scheme “has been hugely successful, with about 150,000 current members.”

When the hire scheme launched in July 2010, Johnson promised it would herald a new era of cycling in the capital.

Last month it emerged that an internal TfL report had warned of rising dissatisfaction among members.

The report also warned that “declining scores across all measures for members suggests BCH novelty has worn off and cyclists are becoming more critical of the BCH offer.”

In May 2011 a City Hall survey suggested less the 1% of Londoners used the scheme.

The number of new sign-ups was provided by Mayor Johnson in response to a question from London Assembly Member Jenny Jones who asked: “how many new members have joined the Cycle Hire Scheme since August 2011”

Despite the continuing downward trend in sign-ups, the Mayor told Jones: “There was a huge demand for memberships when the scheme first launched, and total memberships continue to grow.”
The Mayor added: “TfL expects that new membership uptake and usage of the scheme will of course fluctuate according to seasonal and weather effects, and it would be most accurate to look at the number of new memberships and trips made over the course of a full year to appreciate this.”

Commenting on the Mayor’s answer, Jones said: “This decline, especially in the summer months, is very disappointing.

“Part of the problem might be that the scheme’s area is just too small and doesn’t cover enough streets where ordinary Londoners live. An expansion further into Zone 2 might see a healthy increase in take up.”


  1. says

    Did you see the recent Daily Mail story about Serco employees who had doled out thousands of pounds of bogus cycle hire refunds to their mates? “Fraudsters ‘scammed £46,000 from ‘Boris Bike’ scheme by issuing scores of sham refunds”

  2. Matt says

    I used to be a broadly enthusiastic casual user of BCH, till I spent a weekend in Paris using their Velib system, which pretty much ruined it for me. Velib is so unbelievably superior to BCH in every way…

    Size: This is perhaps unfair on London, but the number one benefit of Paris’ system is that its expansion has passed a tipping point whereby you don’t need to plan your route around where docking stations are. If one station is full, you just carry on for a minute or two in any direction and you will hit another.

    Cost: £1.40 a day or £25 a year for Velib, versus £1 a day or £45 a year for BCH. In London you have to try to figure out whether you’ll actually use the bikes 45 days a year. In Paris its cheap enough that you may as well just buy an annual pass and not worry about it.

    Functionality: As a casual user in Paris you type in a code on the machine and select which bike you want released out of the available options (you then get about thirty seconds to go and pick up the now easy-to-remove bike). In London, you have to use your bank card each time you want a bike (in card readers that don’t seem to work half the time), fiddle around typing on the crappy keypad on the docking station, then struggle to yank the bike out of its holder.

    Infrastructure: Velib bikes are relatively light, maneuverable and decent to look at. And they have baskets, stands and locks. The docking stations are discreet and don’t take a huge amount of space. BCH bikes are clunkier, heavier and plastered with adverts. As are the docking stations.

    All in all, I’m not surprised BCH is struggling. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just copy the Paris scheme exactly, instead of changing the basic model for the worse in so many ways.