New figures released by Transport for London (TfL) show that its Santander Cycles scheme has provided a lifeline to tens of thousands of Londoners by enabling them to safely make essential journeys during the coronavirus pandemic.
New 24-hour Santander Cycles membership registrations rose by 167 per cent in the year to December 2020, representing the largest increase in the scheme’s 10-year history. Meanwhile, registrations for new annual memberships increased by a quarter.
Total hire numbers for 2020 were 10,434,167 – an increase of around 6,000 hires from 2019 – despite a significant overall reduction in journeys across London during the pandemic.
Santander Cycles have played a crucial role in keeping London moving during the coronavirus pandemic as more people have turned to cycling for their exercise and transport.
Over the course of last year, the previous maximum daily hire number of 50,000 was surpassed on 14 separate days as record numbers of people tried Santander Cycles for the first time. The festive period also continued to be very busy for Santander Cycles with more than 60,000 hires made between the 25 and 28 December, as people took advantage of quieter streets and dry weather.
In 2020, Santander Cycles played a crucial role in supporting key workers during the pandemic. Free cycle hire access codes have been provided for NHS staff and other key workers, with 217,710 hires so far since it was made available in March 2020. Almost 18,000 people have benefited from the offer to date. The busiest location for NHS code redemption is the docking station on Lambeth Palace Road, Waterloo, near to St Thomas’s Hospital. The offer has been repeatedly extended and is now valid until 21 February.
Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “The Santander Cycle Hire scheme has gone from strength to strength since it launched and over the past year many more Londoners have realised what a lifeline it is. Although I’m delighted that many records have been broken, I’m particularly proud that NHS staff and key workers have benefited from almost 220,000 free hires since March, helping support them in carrying out their critical roles.”
Helen Sharp, TfL’s Head of Cycle Hire Business Development, said: “TfL’s cycle hire scheme has been at the forefront of London’s cycling boom over the last decade, contributing to the largest increase in cycling in London since records began. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this trend as more people than ever turn to cycling.
“Santander Cycles are the easiest and most affordable way people in London can give cycling a try. We’re pleased to have welcomed a record number of new members in 2020, despite restrictions on travel. This year, we will continue to do all we can to ensure cycling in London is accessible to all.”
Dan Sherwood, Director of Marketing at Santander UK, said: “We’re really pleased that during the tenth anniversary year of Santander Cycles and despite a pandemic, the scheme continues to play a big part in the way millions of people travel across the city, including many key and critical workers in the local community supported with the free code scheme. Huge congratulations to all those who have been announced as competition winners!”
The new hire figures highlight a successful tenth anniversary year for TfL’s flagship cycle hire scheme. TfL introduced cycle hire to Londoners on 30 July 2010 with 350 docking stations across eight London boroughs. Today, these numbers have more than doubled: Londoners now have access to 781 docking stations and more than 14,000 bikes.
To keep up with increasing demand for cycling, TfL has recently introduced five new docking stations around Clapham Common and Canada Water Tube stations and alongside the Cycleway 4 route in Southwark. A new docking station will also open in Bermondsey later this month and on Gauden Road in Lambeth next month as part of the expansion of the scheme around Clapham Common.
This year, TfL will introduce new measures to improve and modernise the Santander Cycles scheme to ensure it keeps pace with its extraordinary growth. Planned modernisation will include an update to cycle hire terminals and back office systems.
These new initiatives will enable TfL to deliver even greater flexibility for Santander Cycles customers and allows the potential for e-bikes to be introduced in the future. TfL will also continue to introduce new GPS tracking capability across the Santander Cycles fleet to further help ensure bikes are always available to hire.
TfL continues to work closely with London’s boroughs to rapidly create space for cycling across the city. This includes building a strategic network for cycling in London, transforming town centres and reducing traffic on residential streets.
Last month, TfL, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Hounslow opened two new temporary cycle lanes totalling almost 5.5km space as part of the Mayor’s bold Streetspace programme. This builds on the 90km of new or upgraded cycle lanes which have been delivered or are under construction since May 2020 in response to coronavirus.
These have been delivered using temporary measures to make it easier for people switch car trips for walking and cycling during the pandemic, cutting congestion and pollution, while boosting people’s health and activity levels and reducing pressure on public transport while capacity it reduced.
Santander Cycles can be hired from as little as £2 a day for an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys. More than half of cycle hire users in London today say they started cycling because of the scheme.
10 years of cycle hire in London:
- 30 July 2010 – Cycle hire is launched in the capital and 6.2m hires are made in the first 12 months of the scheme, with Barclays Bank as the scheme’s sponsor partnership. Despite its formal name, the scheme is nicknamed ‘Boris Bikes’ after then London Mayor Boris Johnson who introduced the scheme
- July 2012 – Almost 47,000 hires – the most in one day since the scheme launched
- December 2013 – Cycle hire extends east, west and south with the opening of 150 new docking stations, with new stations in Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea
- May 2015 – Santander and TfL announce a seven-year partnership and Santander Cycles launch
- May 2015 – The Santander Cycles app was launched to make it easier to find and hire bikes
- January 2016 – Santander Cycles expands to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with eight new docking stations
- June 2016 – The scheme breaks the 50 million hire mark
- 2016 – All cycles are fitted with laser lights to increase visibility. The lights project a symbol of a bicycle six metres in front of the cycle, onto the ground, giving cyclists a larger footprint on the road
- October 2017 – The next generation of Santander Cycles arrive in London. The new cycles offer riders improved handling, safety and comfort, with a new gel saddle, lower frame, tyres with puncture prevention, new gear hub and improved front and rear lighting
- February 2018 – Santander Cycles extend to Brixton with eight new docking stations
- November 2018 – The process of hiring a cycle was made easier with a quicker booking process and the introduction of contactless payments
- 2018 – For the first time, more than 10.5m journeys were made using Santander Cycles in a calendar year
- December 2019 – New docking stations open at Blackfriars, Victoria, Queensway and Paddington rail stations
- 2019 – More than 1.7 million hires using the Santander Cycles app during the year
- January 2020 – Santander Cycles app reaches 1m downloads
- September 2020 – Three new docking stations open along Cycleway 4 between Tower Bridge Road and Rotherhithe
- December 2020 – New docking stations opened at Canada Water and Clapham Common Tube stations
- December 2020 – More than 333,000 new members joined the cycle hire scheme in a calendar year
About Santander Cycles
More information about Santander Cycles, including maps of docking stations and how to hire them, is available online at tfl.gov.uk/santandercycles. The free cycle hire app is available on the iTunes and Android App Stores, searching for Santander Cycles.
Santander Cycles covers 100 square kilometres of London, making it one of the largest cycle hire schemes in Europe.
TfL’s cycle hire scheme is supported by Serco, who have maintained and distributed the bikes across London since the scheme was launched in 2010.