Since the unveiling of the snazzy new Santander Cycles last month, more people seem to be donning their Lycra.
According to new figures from Transport for London (TfL), the new bikes have been hired more than 25,000 times since they hit the capital's streets at the beginning of the month, which is 30 per cent more than the average hire rate per bike per day.
Plans for expanding Santander Cycles into Brixton this year however, have been pushed back to early 2018, as planning permissions for the docking stations have taken longer than anticipated to confirm. Seven new docking stations will be installed, providing space for up to 200 bikes.
The new bikes, designed by Pashley Cycles, feature a gel saddle, a lower frame, tyres with puncture prevention, and improved front and rear Blaze lighting. They also have a tech upgrade, featuring a new platform including inbuilt bluetooth as well as the capacity for GPS technology.
Over 250 new Santander Cycles have been rolled out as part of TfL's cycle hire scheme, with thousands more planned for the next few years.
Last year, hires hit a fresh record for Santander Cycles, with 10.3m made, a 4.4 per cent rise on 2015. So far for 2017, there have been 9.4m, and TfL says six of the 10 months topped year-on-year records for the number of journeys made.
David Eddington, TfL’s head of cycle hire, said: “The new Santander Cycles have been exceptionally popular, with thousands of people trying the new bikes in the first few weeks. We have no doubt that these upgraded cycles are going to help us break more records and will encourage even more people to take to two wheels.”
|Features of the new Santander Cycles|
1. Lighting system is better positioned, brighter and more effective
2. New frame
3. Smaller wheels provide faster acceleration from standing start
4. The new design provides increased comfort and safety for smaller riders
5. Mudguards have lower ‘tails’ and more of the rear wheel is covered
6. Saddle includes new gel pads
7. Saddle adjustment is much simpler with a new one-handed seat clamp
8. Puncture prevention is significantly improved with the inclusion of an Aramid belt and 4mm internal puncture protection layer
9. New tougher mudguards
10. Upgraded Shimano brakes providing better stopping performance
Encouraging greater cycling take-up has been on the mayor's agenda, with the appointment of a walking and cycling commissioner in December last year, as part of wider ambitions to improve air quality in the capital.
But while cycling seems to be on the rise, Tube journeys in London have fallen. Earlier this month, the deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross revealed that a fall of around two per cent in Tube numbers has impacted TfL's five-year business plan.
The Tube is the only part of the public transport network to make a profit, so the surprise dip left TfL facing an investment prioritisation process, which resulted in it shelving upgrades planned for the Northern Line and Jubilee Line to save £600m.