In July 2010 Boris Johnson, along with Transport For London (TFL), launched his bid to make London the largest bike riding city in the world with a £140m scheme that saw the introduction of 5,000 pay as you go bicycles. Even before the initiative had been put in place, demand far exceeded availability with 12,000 Londoners signing up to the scheme.
With health and preservation of the environment, two key motivations for a substantial number of people, this initiative is an excellent way of getting out, exploring the city and doing a bit of stealthy exercise.
…the number of members had shot up to around 90,000 with one million journeys recorded…
Like all great endeavours TFL’s bike scheme had teething problems, mainly due to the great demand in its first few days of operation, but by October 2010 the number of members had shot up to around 90,000 with one million journeys recorded. Soon after, plans were announced to extend the network to East London with an additional 2,700 docking stations being planned which will increase by 1,500 across central London by 2012.
TFL have clearly got their eye on creating fun and environmentally-friendly ways to navigate the city in time for the Olympics, partly as a way of reducing the strain on the underground and other transport networks. During tube strikes, in September last year, the number of people choosing to use the bikes rocketed from around 19,000 per day to a staggering 24,000.
…Boris Bikes have fast become a fixture of London life…
Now that the early problems have been ironed out, finding the locations of the docking stations is made easy by the development of smartphone applications that detail the location and availability of the bikes across London. Real-time feeds make sure the information is always accurate.
The affectionately named Boris Bikes have fast become a fixture of London life and with tourists and Londoners queuing to use them, they have become a regular sight around the parks and open spaces of the capital.
With further expansion planned and a rise in popularity of sport due to the imminent Olympic Games, it can only be a matter of time before London rivals and even surpasses the likes of Paris and Amsterdam in becoming TFL and Boris Johnson’s dream of Europe’s cycling capital.