London's Boris Bikes are One Year Old


Photo: B. Alter

Happy Birthday to the Boris Bikes, or Barclays Cycle Hire, the official name. It's been a year now since the rental bicycle system was introduced to London, and cyclists have taken to it with a passion.

With 6 million journeys to date, they have captured the public imagination. Despite fears, only 200 of the 6,000 bikes have had to be scrapped due to vandalism and there have been no serious injuries reported.


Photo: B. Alter

In fact it has been such a success that an extension to the network has just been announced: to parts of the east, west and south of the city. A total of 4,200 docking points and 2,000 new bikes will be introduced by 2013.

Barclays have increased their sponsorship by an additional £25 million, and extended their deal to 2018. Although many have deplored the commercialization of the scheme, even with this influx of money the rental scheme is expected to lose £10 million in its first year, and is unlikely to break even any time soon.

As for wear and tear, 100 Boris bikes need to be repaired every day. However, with 20,000 trips made a day, this isn't too bad. The operator has a team of 15 mechanics patching them up. It would seem that most damage is due to the increase in casual users who are not so cycle-wise.


Photo: B. Alter

It's not perfect: the docking stations are often full so cyclists have to keep driving around until they find an open one to park their bikes. Docking stations can be empty in the morning when there is a rush of commuters and at some busier stations they should be many more bicycles available. One report found that the users are mainly white men between 25 and 44 years old, many earning more than £50,000 a year.

However, anecdotal reports indicate that many people end up buying a bicycle because of their positive experiences on the Boris bike.

London Transport has issued some interesting facts and figures about the first year.

There are 128,803 members, as opposed to casual users. They use 81,060 bicycles during the week and 17,311 on weekends. They represent 84% of the rentals cf 16 per cent by casual users. The average journey time for weekday trips is 16 minutes (the first half hour is free) and on the weekend, average time is 23 minutes.

More on Boris Bikes
Pedal Power: London's Boris Bike is a Roaring Success
Riding the New London Bicycle Rental
Guerilla Sticker Campaign Sticks It to Barclays

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