An eagle-eyed reader spotted this poster hanging in the window of Sainsbury’s Holborn HQ and flagged it up for further investigation.
I like to think I’ve as good a grasp of the Cycle Hire scheme’s complex funding arrangements as anyone, but I admit that the involvement of Sainsbury’s was a revelation to me.
Asking around City Hall it quickly transpired that I wasn’t the only one with an embarrassing gap in my knowledge, so I fired off an email to the increasingly helpful Transport for London press office in the hope they could fill in the blanks.
Stars that they are, today they got back to me with following explanation, offered in the name of Cycle Hire General Manager, Nick Aldworth:
“As part of the initial launch of Barclays Cycle Hire, Sainsburys asked whether we could install a docking station outside their head office in Holborn. This area was already identified by TfL as a potentially popular area for cycle hire journeys once the scheme launched.
“Sainsbury’s part-funded the installation costs, saving the taxpayer £17,000, and agreed to promote the cycle hire scheme to their employees as a quick and easy way to get around London.”
Mystery solved and nice that TfL are more willing than used to be the case to acknowledge the financial contributions of entitles not called Barclays.
Cynic that I remain, I’m an Apprentice-style, numerically impossible 110% certain that’s because the decision to only publicise the bank’s now reduced contribution caused users to think it made a tasty profit and so bred unhappiness when the membership fees went up.
With Sainsbury’s joining Westfield. the London Boroughs of Wandsworth, Tower Hamlets and Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea on the list of funders, the scheme’s name never looked less appropriate.