Boris Bikes: The Facts Behind 10 Years of London’s Bike Rental Program


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It has been 10 years since the first bikes belonging to London’s cycling program were peddled through the streets of the capital.

A decade later, BBC News is taking a closer look behind the bars.

The origins of the diet

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While bikes are known to many as Boris Bikes, it was Ken Livingstone who set up a feasibility study on creating a London bike rental program, modeled on the one in Paris.

The device was launched by Boris Johnson on July 30, 2010, when he announced that he wanted the city to be “filled with thousands of sparkling machines,” which “would become as commonplace on our roads as black taxis and buses. red ”.

93 million hires

Bikes had been rented 93,299,451 times since the program began until June 30 of this year, according to figures from Transport for London (TfL).

Number of cycle hires each year

On July 9, 2015, when the entire metro network was closed due to a strike, bicycles were rented 73,094 times, making it the busiest day since the program began.

The day with the fewest hires was December 19, 2010 with only 2,764 people. It was probably cold and miserable that day.

Celebrities in the saddle

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The occasional famous face was spotted using the humble Boris Bike to get around the capital. For some it might have been a photo opportunity, but for others it was just a convenient form of transportation.

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Actor, bodybuilder and former politician Arnold Schwarzenegger joined then-mayor Boris Johnson for a trundle bed in March 2011, then flew solo on another trip to the capital in June 2015.

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Russell Brand used one of the bikes after joining an anti-austerity protest in Westminster in June 2014.

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And a bit more haphazardly, the movie buff the Predator was photographed crossing Westminster Bridge. Maybe he was looking for Arnie.

The diet grows

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When the project started, there were 350 docking stations and 5,000 bicycles.

These days, there are 781 docking stations and with 1,700 new bikes ready to join the ranks, there will soon be over 14,000 on the streets.

The program now covers 100 km2 (38.6 square miles) of London, making it one of the largest bicycle rental programs in Europe.

The mechanics behind the machines

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Heavy-duty aluminum bikes have three-speed gears, a bell, and a basket.

The former were fitted with dynamo lights, but late 2017 saw the introduction of new cycles that included a gel saddle, tires with puncture prevention, improved lighting and Bluetooth.

Of the motorcycles that were first deployed 10 years ago, 3,993 are still on the road today, although their parts have been replaced to keep them safe and functioning.

A total of 6,654 cycles have been taken out of service since the start of the program for reasons such as loss, theft or irreparable damage.

How to ride

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The program works by users taking a bicycle from a docking station and then being able to leave it at one of those in the capital, assuming there is free space.

Initially, only registered members who paid an annual membership fee and had an FOB mailed to them could rent the bikes.

Technology changed quickly and while the annual subscription is still available, users can also show up at a docking station or use the official app to rent bikes.

Change colors

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Barclays initially sponsored the scheme, which was worth £ 5million a year and led to the bikes being given their original blue livery.

In February 2015 it was announced that Santander would take over sponsorship and the following year the bikes turned red. It also meant that they had acquired their current official name – Santander Cycles.

Changing costs

In 2010, people paid an annual membership fee of £ 45 to become a member as well as a user fee if a bicycle was removed for more than 30 minutes. For up to an hour it costs £ 1, 90 minutes costs £ 4 and 24 hours costs £ 50.

Annual membership these days costs £ 90 per year. Journeys under 30 minutes are still unpaid, but it costs £ 2 every 30 minutes thereafter.

Those using the rental and the subscription-free ride pay £ 2, which allows them to make an unlimited number of trips of up to 30 minutes in a 24-hour period. Journeys over 30 minutes cost £ 2 for every additional 30 minutes.

The pandemic effect

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There has been a huge increase in the number of people using bicycles in recent months.

May was the busiest week in program history, with 363,000 hires made between the 25th and 31st of that month.

Cycles have been hired over 50,000 times a day on 10 occasions in the past two months. In the decade before this year, it had only happened twice.

A very long journey

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Media captionBaz Bignall cycles 1000 miles on a ‘Boris Bike’ to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital

In September 2015, Baz Bignall, based in Bournemouth, rode a Boris Bike from John O’Groats to Land’s End for charity.

Fortunately, TfL did not charge him for the rental.


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