Boost for 'Boris Bikes'

October 19, 2010, 10:01 PM GMT+0

Support for the London Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, nicknamed the ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme after the London Mayor and former Conservative MP Boris Johnson, is strong among London residents, as the millionth ride was made last week, our poll of London adults has found. The scheme, launched earlier this year, has rendered the flash of blue mudguards emblazoned with a Barclays Bank logo a rapidly-familiar part of London traffic.

On the high road to success?

  • In a representative poll of 1,271 London adults, 70% think that the scheme is a good idea and 53% want the area it covers to be expanded.
  • The majority of Londoners clearly think that ‘Boris Bikes’ are the best way to beat the rush hour in the capital, as 73% agree that the bikes are the most convenient way to get around, along with 46% who believe the scheme will help relieve traffic.
  • 64% feel that the bike hire scheme will ‘encourage more people to take up cycling’.

Taking it up a gear

A couple of ideas suggested to improve the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme have gone down particularly well with our panellists.

    At present, the only way to participate in the scheme is to register online and obtain a key, but adding the service to the capital’s existing ‘Oyster’ network may be the best way forward to boost uptake.
  • 78% of Londoners support the idea of using the pre-pay Oyster cards (which do not expire, and can be ‘topped up’ on a pay-as-you-go scheme as well as loaded with weekly, monthly or yearly travelcards) to pay for the bikes
  • Just 2% disagree that Oyster payments would be a good idea.

Our data also suggests that improving the bikes’ safety reputation could further increase popularity among Londoners.

  • While panellists disagree on the extent of the hazard the bikes pose to other road users (28% agree they’re dangerous compared to 31% who disagree)
  • 66% believe that those who have hired bikes should have to wear helmets.

Currently the bikes do not come with helmets and wearing one while riding is not compulsory.

One million rides

The London Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, or ‘Boris Bike’ scheme, was launched in London on the 30th July 2010 and is a public bicycle sharing scheme designed to cut traffic and pollution in London. The £140 million project experienced glitches at the start due to software issues meaning that just 338 of the intended 400 docking stations have been set up, with just 5,247 of the 6,000 bikes made available for use. Hiccups aside though, some Londoners seem to have taken to the bikes with ease, as the millionth ride was clocked up earlier this month just ten weeks after the scheme’s launch.