Transport for London has revealed how London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, launched at the end of July this year, has not only helped individuals get around the city, but is also benefiting businesses in the capital.
In the first five months of operation, more than 2 million journeys have been made using the fleet of navy blue bikes, and there are in excess of 110,000 members of the scheme, which was also opened up to casual users last month.
While much of the use of the bikes is in some shape or form work-related, whether that be commuters on the last leg of their journey to work, or someone whizzing around town between appointments – something we’ve done ourselves when road.cc business has taken us to the capital – it’s clear that an increasing number of organisations are harnessing the scheme for their daily operations.
The attractions for businesses whose activities permit them to use the scheme in some way are obvious – assuming the trip length is 30 minutes or less, they only have to pay the access fee of £1 a day, which falls sharply if extended periods are bought, journey times are predictable, with no worries about traffic hold-ups, it benefits the workforce’s health and, of course, reinforces a company’s green credentials.
Some companies maintain that there’s also a certain kudos that comes with their customers being aware that they are using the so-called Boris Bikes to help carry out their duties.
According to Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's transport adviser, "Both commuters and businesses have fully embraced Barclays Cycle Hire which is testimony to the guile and ingenuity that makes London such a smart place to do business.
“It shows a real shift in the culture of the city as it reaps the rewards of cycling; both financial and environmental. This is good news for everyone who wants to live and work in a cleaner, greener city.”
Mr Ranger continues: “I hope this inspires businesses to take on other aspects of the cycle revolution such as the Barclays Cycle Superhighways and spurs them on to improve facilities for those who are regularly using two wheels."
Deanna Oppenheimer, Vice-Chair, Global Retail Banking, CEO Western Europe and CEO UK Retail Banking at Barclays, sponsors of the scheme and London’s Barclays Cycle Superhighways, says that the bank is “delighted that the London business community is embracing and witnessing the benefits of Barclays Cycle Hire.
"The scheme is having a profound social and economic benefit on the city of London,” she adds. “Users of the scheme get healthier and more productive at work, and research shows that increases to transport capacity improves opportunities for investment and jobs in London. Already, the public and employers are making cost savings by using a cheap and sustainable mode of transport."
TfL has highlighted a number of specific examples of businesses using the scheme that help explain just what the attractions and benefits are of incorporating use of the hire bikes in their daily activities.
Pest control firm Cleankill, for instance, uses the bikes as a means of avoiding traffic congestion and lower its carbon footprint, while for IT services company Octavia, the key attraction lies in reducing travel costs.
Ian Miller of Cleankill is enthusiastic in his endorsement of the scheme. “It’s brilliant,” he says. “I used to use the tube and occasionally my car, but now I hire a bike. I find it's faster than other forms of transport and I feel much healthier for it. Our customers are very keen that we are a 'green' pest control operation so they love the fact that I use a bike to reach them - plus I'm saving the company money."
Meanwhile, CEO of Southwark-based Octavia, Giles Sirett, explains the reasoning behind his company’s adoption of the scheme: "We carry out around 100 business journeys a week across London and were keen to reduce the amount of time and money we spend travelling to jobs. We have a docking station located outside our offices and as most of our journeys are under 30 minutes, the cycle scheme proves to be very inexpensive and a fast way of getting to our customers."
Two other companies to have embraced the scheme are Dogstar Design, based in Clerkenwell, and the InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane.
For Dogstar, the principal reasons behind using hire bikes to those of Octavia – it saves time and money, as managing director Simon Davies outlines: "The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has completely changed the way we get around the City to visit our clients. In these times of reduced budgets we are able to save ourselves and our clients money by using the bikes to travel for free to meetings, at the same time we have reduced the amount of time we spend travelling."
As previously reported here on road.cc, The InterContinental Hotel in Park Lane used multiple memberships of the scheme to enable overseas visitors, or UK residents who weren’t members, to benefit from it.
Even though the scheme has now been opened up to casual users, the ability to provide guests with what is in effect temporary membership is an added service that the hotel can offer, with Head Concierge Simon Rose saying: "Barclays Cycle Hire is great way for our guests to see parts of the city that they would be less likely to uncover travelling by Tube.”
Besides those organisations using the scheme specifically for their own purposes, one segment of the London business community has also received a tangible benefit from it – bike retailers, with TfL saying that many have seen greater interest in cycle clothing since the launch.
Caz Nicklin, founder and Director of online business Cyclechic.co.uk, which operates from offices in Shoreditch, said: "We have noticed a rise in sales since the scheme started in July. It seems to have opened up cycling to a wider spectrum of people, who ordinarily would not have thought to cycle in London.
“I also use the bikes day to day for popping to our warehouse and attending meetings around town and find them fantastically convenient," she adds.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.