Hire bikes most popular among the young, male users outnumber females by three to one

Around one in twelve London residents have tried out the city’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme since it was launched at the end of July 2010, a  survey has revealed.

The London Omnibus survey, conducted by YouGov, only questions people who live within the capital's broughs, and therefore excludes tourists and other visitors as well as those who commute in from farther afield for work, reports Metro.

In all, 8 per cent of Londoners said they had used the scheme since it was launched 16 months ago. That may not sound a lot, but it’s still around half a million adults.

Moreover once you start thinking behind the figures, it’s clear that a significant proportion of those who are able to use the scheme have done so.

For a start, you can exclude those who are too elderly or infirm to use the bikes. Then, there’s the fact that the scheme covers a relatively small and central zone that many – perhaps most – residents of outlying boroughs seldom, if ever, visit.

Meanwhile, many residents who do commute into the city for work don’t have a long enough journey once they arrive in the city centre to justify using a bike.

Suddenly, that 8 per cent of all London residents isn’t looking too small - if it were shown as a proportion of those who were in a position to actually use the scheme, there's little doubt it would be much, much higher.

According to YouGov, men, at 12 per cent, are three times more likely than women, at 4 per cent, to have used the scheme’s distinctive blue bikes.

The scheme has proved particularly popular with the capital’s younger residents; more than a fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds and 11 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds have used it.

What the survey doesn't show, however, is the frequency of use, so there is no way of telling how many people, for example, have tried out a bike once and not returned.

Metro adds that more than 7 million journeys have now been made using the scheme, more than a third of those by casual users. The scheme also currently has around 140,000 registered members.


Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.