TfL has set out plans to expand the Santander Cycles scheme to keep up with “unprecedented” demand.
Last month was the best May in London’s cycle hire scheme’s ten-year history, TfL said, with 1,120,620 hires. Last month also had the highest ever number of hires in a single week – with 362,925 hires made between 25th-31st May – and the highest ever number of hires in a weekend, with 132,979 hires made between 30th-31st May.
The free Santander Cycles hire scheme for NHS staff has also fuelled demand, with 30,000 free journeys made since the offer was made available in March.
TfL said it is working hard to keep up with the demand, starting with rolling out eight new docking stations this summer to ensure that more people can use the bikes to get to where they need to be. Three new docking stations will be built around Clapham Common.
Four new docking stations will be built alongside the Cycleway 4 route, which will connect Tower Bridge Road with Rotherhithe, and one at nearby Canada Water. A further six docking stations will be built by the end of the year. The Santander Cycles hire bike hubs at Liverpool Street and Soho reopened in the spring, several months before they normally open, to meet the increased demand.
TfL is working to create more bike hubs in the coming months and plans to improve staffing at key cycle hub locations in central London longer term to ensure that more people can rely on the scheme for ‘last mile’ journeys from major rail stations. It is also making 1,700 more Santander Cycle bikes available, bringing the total to more than 14,000 – an increase of nearly 15% and the largest single increase in bikes for the scheme since 2013.
As well as boosting the Santander Cycle hire scheme, TfL is working to create extra space for cycling and walking across the capital as part of the Mayor’s Streetspace for London programme.
Temporary changes are being made to roads to support safe walking and cycling and enable social distancing. A number of changes, including a new cycle lane on Park Lane, extra pavement space at 17 high streets across the capital and changes to residential roads are already in place.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I’m determined that our city’s recovery from coronavirus will be clean, green and sustainable and enabling more Londoners to cycle is absolutely central to this. I’m delighted by the unprecedented demand for cycling over the past few months. We’ve seen three times the number of people cycling in some parts of our city compared to before the crisis, huge demand for our free cycle hire scheme for NHS staff and carers, and multiple Santander Cycles records being broken.
“By adding new docking stations, cycle hire hubs and bikes we are making it even more convenient to take to two wheels. I am proud that our Streetspace for London plans are making it safer and easier to cycle in our city, and freeing up space on public transport for people who have no alternative.”
TfL said it has taken a number of measures to clean the scheme and an anti-viral fluid is being used on docking stations and bikes, including docking stations near hospitals. All touchpoints are regularly cleaned, including the screen, payment device and docking point numbers. To minimise contact with docking stations, people can also use the free Santander Cycles app to hire bikes.
To support hospital staff getting into work, NHS workers will continue to be given a code that waives the 24-hour access fee for Santander Cycles, meaning any journey under 30 minutes is free. Care workers and the police can also use the Santander Cycle hire bikes free of charge.
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