Who will step in to sponsor the cycle hire scheme?

Barclay’s are no longer feeling the London cycling love and have left Boris bike commuters without a sponsor, having walked away after paying just half of the promised £50 million. Who will step up to take their place?

“Nobody!” I’m sure many of us would wishfully answer. The original “naked” form of the bikes is much more attractive. I’d rather ride on the below bike, that one plastered with advertising any day.

Cycle hire scheme without sponorship

Unfortunately, things are not looking good without a sponsor.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, famously promised to deliver the scheme without any cost to the tax payer. Thus far, this hasn’t been the case, especially after the latest set back.

According to draft figures by TfL, over the next ten years, the cost of running the scheme is rising from £75 million to £144 million.

The funding gap is going to come from none other than TfL’s already small cycling budget.

This means cut backs in other areas. In particular, it seems of the 100 dangerous junctions identified by TfL, only 33 are set to be improved.

Barclays pulling out of the sponsorship deal early, means less money to improve dangerous roads for cyclists in London.  

So who will step in?

Addison Lee? Durex? Co-Operative Bank? Emirates?

These were some of the suggestions from readers who follow London Cyclist on Facebook.

It would be an ironic turn of events to see Addison Lee, an organisation once boycotted by cyclists, take on the sponsorship. Durex would be a good one – suggesting cyclists are not only eco-friendly, but they keep things safe in the bedroom. How about a nice red re-brand of the Boris Bikes by Emirates?

Cycling companies such as Wiggle and Evans Cycles have also been suggested.

In reality, they would have to split up the sponsorship of the cycle hire scheme, for it to be possible for smaller companies to take part. Indeed this is an option TfL may currently be exploring.

Other cities have made their cycle hire schemes work. In Paris, the scheme generates a small profit for the city. A study published by ITDP, found that compared to other cities, costs per trip in London are higher, and the number of trips per bike lower.

Londoners are also getting a raw deal for their money with the cycle superhighways. These cost in the region of £2 million per mile. This is at least ten times more per mile, than properly segregated bike lanes in Chicago.

Clearly, there are improvements to be made and questions are being asked of Boris Johnson’s management of the transport schemes.

Users are also feeling the woes of the increased costs and disappearing sponsorship money, as earlier in the year the cost of riding a Boris Bike doubled.

Will a sponsor step in to help create a greener London, with better transport options? We can only wait and see.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

8 Responses to Who will step in to sponsor the cycle hire scheme?

  1. Peter 13/12/2013 at 7:51 am #

    how they can manage to spend £2 million a mile on blue paint is beyond me

    • Alan Moore 13/12/2013 at 9:58 am #

      Agreed, that is an ASTONISHING statistic. Deplorable.

      They did apparently do some work to smooth out the road underneath the blue paint – but, still..

  2. Tom 13/12/2013 at 9:07 am #

    The problem is that they will never been known as ‘sponsor name’ bikes, but as boris bikes, meaning that any sponsor isn’t getting the full value from their investment.

  3. Chris 13/12/2013 at 11:12 am #

    Why even go for one sponsor? Go for several smaller sponsors that get coverage on the rear wheel ad space & at the docking stations.

    Even go for naming docking stations after the sponsors, more popular ones being of higher sponsor value.

    That way the scheme is not at the mercy of one sponsor and maybe London can start to have the cycling revolution that Johnson is utterly incapable of assisting.

  4. Andreas 13/12/2013 at 5:08 pm #

    “On average, urban freeways cost $60 million a mile to build. The best type of protected bike lanes cost between $170,000 and $250,000 per mile and need much less maintenance.” via http://www.fastcoexist.com/3021074/making-the-economic-case-for-cycling-friendly-cities-with-bikeonomics

  5. Vincent 14/12/2013 at 11:08 pm #

    > The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, famously promised to deliver the scheme without any cost to the tax payer.

    Holland and Denmark managed to get people to ride bikes without a hire scheme.

    Why do we even bother with hire schemes instead of making it easy and safe for people to ride their own bike?

    What problems do hire schemes mean to solve?

  6. joey 15/12/2013 at 8:11 am #

    I agree with Chris, getting local businesses to sponsor the docking stations will also help develop more of an identity for them in the community. “lets pick up a Boris bike from Morleys and drop it off at the northcote” etc

  7. Tom R 16/12/2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Vincent – we can’t compare London with the cities of Denmark or Holland – their spatial planning has meant that travel distances are much shorter. Just think of all the people that commute 1 or 2 hrs into London, the bike hire scheme gives them an alternative to finish their travel after a train journey.

    The same goes for the cost of infrastructure, in the US they have much fewer constraints due to the width of the roads, whereas we have to squeeze things in due to buildings, utilities etc.

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