TfL planning to add e-bikes to hire scheme as Santander extends sponsorship
ITS (UK) Executive Member Transport for London (TfL) has reached an agreement with cycle hire sponsor Santander that will see the financial services provider continue its sponsorship of London’s flagship cycle hire scheme, Santander Cycles, for another three years until 2025.
The extension of Santander’s sponsorship will support TfL as it moves forward with planned investment in cycle hire, ensuring the scheme keeps pace with its extraordinary growth in recent years. The next three years will see Santander Cycles expanded to new areas of London and the introduction of e-bikes to the fleet for the first time. TfL and Santander are working on plans to introduce around 500 electric bikes into the scheme from next summer, helping to break down the barriers that stop some people from cycling, including fitness, age and journey length.
Planned modernisation will also include major updates to the Santander Cycles app, cycle hire terminals and back office systems that will enable TfL to deliver even greater flexibility for customers.
Santander’s sponsorship renewal comes as TfL’s cycle hire scheme has enjoyed one of its most successful years. This success has been generated by efficiencies including the introduction of Beryl GPS technology to help locate missing cycles and a significant increase in people hiring for longer during the coronavirus pandemic, as more people turned to cycling for their exercise. In March, London’s popular Santander Cycles scheme passed 100 million hires, marking a significant milestone in the scheme’s ten-year history.
More than 100,000 hires over the past year have been made by NHS staff and key workers as Santander Cycles have supported key workers through the coronavirus pandemic by offering free cycle hire access codes.* A permanent NHS discount for annual memberships is now being developed as a continued show of appreciation.
Daily hire figures have been particularly strong in the past year with 18 of the 20 busiest days** for the scheme being between March 2020 and March 2021 and record monthly hires in April 2021. Saturday 30 May 2020 saw the scheme’s second busiest day in its ten-year history, with 70,170 hires being made, which is only surpassed by 73,094 hires on the 9 July 2015, which coincided with a Tube strike.
Santander Cycles has also seen a huge growth in new customers over the last year with recent TfL figures showing that 24-hour Santander Cycles membership registrations rose by 193 per cent from March 2020 to March 2021, representing the largest increase in the scheme’s history. Meanwhile, registrations for new annual memberships increased by 22 per cent. To help meet this demand, TfL re-opened the Waterloo Hub on 26 April, which has provided 150 additional cycles to hire.
In May 2015, Santander and TfL announced a seven-year partnership. As the success of the cycle hire scheme continues to grow, both parties have now agreed to extend the contract until May 2025.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
‘Cycling has been a lifeline for many Londoners over the past year and I’m determined to make it even more accessible to help us rebuild as a cleaner and greener city. Santander Cycle hire is key to this, so I’m delighted that TfL will be rolling out the scheme’s first e-bikes in summer next year and expanding it to cover new parts of our city thanks to Santander’s continued support.
‘I’m so pleased that our city’s heroic keyworkers have accessed more than 100,000 free hires since we introduced the offer in March last year. I’m delighted that TfL is now developing a permanent discount for NHS workers as a token of appreciation.’
Nathan Bostock, CEO, Santander UK, said:
‘Since our partnership with TfL began in 2015, Santander Cycles has continued to thrive and is a great example of our commitment to supporting the communities in which we operate. Over the years we have worked hard to ensure Santander Cycles plays an important part in keeping communities connected and mobile in a healthy, sustainable and affordable way. From the creation of the hire app, the installation of the green safety Beryl Laserlights, to the introduction of contactless payment systems, we are proud to have brought innovation to the scheme and crucially helped people and businesses prosper along the way. We look forward to working together with TfL on the exciting plans we have for the fantastic scheme over the coming years.’
Andy Byford, TfL’s Commissioner, said:
‘Our popular cycle hire scheme has gone from strength to strength thanks to five successful years of partnership with Santander. Santander Cycles have been at the heart of a cycling revolution in the capital and we look forward to expanding, electrifying and improving our offering with Santander, so even more Londoners and visitors can discover the benefits of cycling.’
By offering flexible and inexpensive access to bikes across the city, cycle hire has made it easy for Londoners and visitors to the capital to give cycling a try. More than half of cycle hire users in London today say they started cycling because of the scheme. Today, the red livery of Santander Cycles is a familiar sight on London’s streets as cycling continues to skyrocket in popularity.
To celebrate its tenth anniversary year, TfL and cycle hire scheme sponsor Santander awarded a free annual membership to a dedicated cycle hire user for each month of 2020, naming a bike in their honour. Liz Harwood, from south east London had a bike named after her in July that has already been hired by more than 700 people and Liz has helped introduce more than 50 different people to cycle hire over the years.
Liz Harwood, from south east London, said:
‘Unfortunately due to the pandemic I’ve not been able to introduce as many people to the joys of Santander Cycles over the past year as I’d like to, but I took a non-cycling friend on a cycle ride recently and she loved it. We went for a cycle ride locally and it was fantastic to see so many people using Santander Cycles for their exercise. I’m delighted that the Liz Harwood cycle has already been hired by more than 700 people and has travelled from Camden in the north to Brixton in the south, the Olympic Park in the east and Hammersmith in the west.’
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 more than 750 docking stations and more than 14,000 bikes. To keep up with increasing demand for cycling, TfL has recently introduced new docking stations in Clapham, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.
A thriving cycle hire scheme is central to the Mayor’s plans to make walking and cycling easier. Since May 2020 more than 100km of new or upgraded cycle lanes have been built or are under construction, along with more than 22,500 square metres of extra pavement space reallocated for people walking. The measures mean people are increasingly using bikes to get around their local area and for exercise, with recent TfL data showing cycling has increased by 22 per cent in outer London compared to spring 2019, with a seven per cent rise in inner London.
This continued investment in walking and cycling is also central to achieving the Mayor’s Vision Zero goal of eradicating all deaths and serious injuries from London’s roads by 2041. The risk of a damaging car-led recovery from the pandemic has made it even more important to make it easier to walk and cycle, especially as around 40 per cent of Londoners don’t have access to a car, with a high proportion of these from low-income households.
Santander Cycles can be hired from as little as £2 a day for an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys.
(Picture – Yay Images)