The streetscape of large parts of East London will be transformed this week as the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme makes its long awaited expansion into Tower Hamlets, including Canary Wharf, as well as North Shoreditch in Hackney. The scheme will also be expanded to Westfield White City in West London. The operation will see 2,300 new bikes made available, increasing the size of the fleet by more than a third to more than 8,300, with 4,800 new docking points coming onstream, taking the total to 15,000.
The new bikes will be put in place overnight on Wednesday in time for the new docking points to go live on Thursday morning. Sometimes nicknamed ‘Banker Bikes’ – possibly a reference to the office worker types who make up many users, although we suspect there’s a bit of a Cockney rhyming slang influence going on too – the new zone also includes the Canary Wharf headquarters of the bank that sponsors the scheme.
Speaking about the planned expansion last month, Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK Retail and Business Banking, said: “Barclays Cycle Hire has undoubtedly been a huge success and the extension to east London will mean even more people will benefit from this bold and pioneering initiative.
“Barclays Cycle Hire now reaches our global headquarters in Canary Wharf so we are excited about the opportunity to mobilise our colleagues in the Capital. This scheme is a demonstrable example of our commitment to the communities in which we serve,” he added.
Transport for London said last month that nearly 10 million trips had been completed on the bikes since the scheme was launched in July 2010, comprising 7.7 million by the 150,000 members of the scheme and a further 2.1 million carried out by casual users since it was opened up to them in December 2010.
Last year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson instructed TfL to draw up plans for an eventual further expansion of the scheme to asked TfL to prepare plans for a westward expansion of the cycle hire scheme through Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea.
In terms of the numbers of bicycles, the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is the second largest in Europe behind the Vélib’ scheme in Paris which has around 20,000 bikes; even that is dwarfed, however, by a scheme in Hangzhou, China, which boasts more than 60,000 bikes, while Beijing plans to extend its own scheme to 50,000 bikes by 2015.
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.