More on those Borough Bikes

London's boroughs are subsidising the cycle hire scheme. Image: MayorWatch
After my report that Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth councils were each paying Transport for London £2m to support the cycle hire scheme, others have been asking whether their local councils are doing likewise.

On the Shepherds Bush blog, Chris has a response from Hammersmith & Fulham confirming they too will be providing support “in a variety of ways including developer funding through section 106 and in kind support such as officer time and use of premises.”

As Chris reports, that support totals £2m.

So far that’s at least £6m being collected from local councils for a scheme Boris and Barclays derive huge PR benefits from. I know others are also asking awkward questions of their local councils.

Transport for London meanwhile owe me some answers, including on how much LIPs and Section 106 money they know boroughs have provided and also how much boroughs contributed to the original scheme and the expansions.

I’ve also asked what publicity – on cycle hire posts and marketing materials – boroughs receive in return for their cash. So far it seems much less than Barclays get as part of their secret sponsorship deal.

When TfL respond I’ll let you know.

Update: TfL have sent the following statement which answers most, but not all, of my questions:

“Since its launch in July 2010 the Barclays Cycle Hire been an enormous success, with more than 10m customer journeys made and extensions planned for both east and west of the original central London scheme area. Boroughs where the scheme is extending have seen the success and benefits of the original scheme, and are keen to contribute towards this proven and cheap way to get around the capital.

“London Borough of Tower Hamlets has agreed to provide funding of £2m for the £40m eastern extension, which will blanket the borough with a new mode of transport which local people can use for work and social activity for as little as 12p per day. Both TfL and London Borough of Tower Hamlets believe Barclays Cycle Hire will significantly boost cycle usage in this part of the capital. As a partner in bringing the scheme to the borough, the Tower Hamlets name and logo will be alongside those of the Mayor and TfL on all docking stations in the extended area.”

The scheme TfL calls “an enormous success” last year saw sign-ups plummet to just 800 in December while an internal TfL report warned of rising dissatisfaction amongst users.


  1. Bob says

    The other important bit of context regarding TfL’s description of the scheme as an ‘enormous success’, was that when it launched they expected there to be 40,000 trips per day (, while the business case estimated demand for ‘up to 52,709 trips a day’. The current average of 25,000 trips a day, with the scheme fully launched, would therefore seem to be a serious underperformance. Obviously this cuts down on direct revenue from membership and ‘fares’, but it may also mean they’re not getting the full whack of sponsorship £££s from Barclays.

    This raises the question of why it is underperforming. The IT issues must be a contributory factor, but it seems likely that the unsafe conditions are putting a lot of people off. The cyclist casualty rate is high in London and has not fallen since the scheme launch as TfL expected. That internal TfL survey found that most people think cycling in London is unsafe, like many other surveys. Also, the recent Travel in London report also notes that 77% of scheme members are male, while women are more likely to have joined but never used the scheme. This tallies with other evidence that women are more risk-averse and will avoid cycling where casualty rates are high.

    So in summary, it’s likely that if the roads were safer, the cycle hire scheme would be more popular and would lose less money.

  2. Bryan Paul Tomlinson says

    Dear Bob, unprofessional cycling in Central London is ridiculous and dangerous. It is perverse for one cyclist on a bankers bike to wobble along a bus lane holding up hundreds of commuters travelling in buses.
    Last night I witnessed a car nearly knock a cyclist off of his bike. The cyclist was riding in the dark, had no lights and was wearing dark clothing. I watched the macho cyclist verbally attack the car driver and then cycle off through a busy traffic junction with his light on red. What a wally !!!!
    When cyclists wear hi-viz, carry an insurance document and have adequate lighting they should be allowed on the public highways. If not, stay in the parks…….