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Around one in twelve London residents have tried out a Boris bike, survey finds

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.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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