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.
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.