2020 marks 10 years of TfL's cycle hire scheme. That's a decade of Londoners and tourists hopping on Boris bikes/Santander cycles/whatever you want to call them and pedalling all over town. In that time they've gone from Barclays blue to Santander red, via a few rainbow-coloured Pride makeovers. Those initial slovenly three gears ("Sloth, Tortoise and Ageing Elephant") were improved with a new model, rolled out in 2017.
Us Londoners have come to look at them in the way one might view at a sibling — we'll mock them as much as we like, but if any out-of-towners dare to diss them, they'll be put firmly back in their box, thank you very much.
Here are some interesting facts about the scheme over the past 10 years:
- 87 million hires have taken place in the past decade.
- There were just 315 docking stations when the scheme first launched.
- There are now 781 docking station all over the capital.
- 100km² of London is covered by the scheme.
- There were 34,500 hires on Christmas Day 2019 — unsurprising, given that no trains, tubes or buses run on that day.
The scheme officially launched on 30 July 2010, following weeks of hype, anticipation and speculation among London's finest media outlets of the day. That said, a delay in the launch process meant that only pre-registered 'members' of the scheme could access the bikes on launch day, with everyone else having to wait another month. Delays on a new transport project in London? Plus ça change.
The scheme continues to expand, with new docking stations opened at Victoria, Paddington, Blackfriars and Queensway in 2019. Cycling infrastructure as a whole is having something of a moment in London — TfL is currently holding a consultation on plans for a new Cycleway between Greenwich and Woolwich.
So expect plenty of fanfare to be made in July this year to mark the anniversary — we're crossing our fingers for at least one day of free hire, and we've already had news of a competition, with the public encouraged to share their stories of using scheme for a chance to have one of the bikes named after them, and win a year's membership.
Happy birthday, bikes.