TfL’s Santander cycle hire scheme saw a record-breaking number of hires across 2021 with 10.9 million, surpassing the previous best target set in 2018 by 371,000 hires.
More than one million individual customers used the cycle hire scheme last year, the first time this milestone has been reached in a calendar year, and 178,000 new members joined the scheme in 2021, a 7% increase on 2020 and more than double that of any year prior to 2020.
During the pandemic, cycling levels were boosted overall, from 21% of Londoners in 2019/20 to 27% in 2020/21, and participation also widened, particularly among people from minority ethnic communities.
TfL research last year found that one in five people who don’t cycle are now actively considering cycling, which could increase participation levels to more than 40% of Londoners. The research found that half of Black and Asian non-cyclists (49% and 46% respectively) are open to starting to cycle.
Office workers returning after the summer holidays helped contribute to the record year, with September and October both seeing more than one million hires over the month. In September, TfL saw the highest volume of Santander Cycles commuter hires since March 2020, with an average 7,573 daily hires made between 07:00 and 10:00 on weekdays.
Santander Cycles continues to support NHS staff and key workers by offering free cycle hire access codes, with more than 64,000 free 24-hour access periods given out to NHS and keyworkers in 2021.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “It’s fantastic to see our cycle hire scheme reach such incredible heights, achieving its highest ever hire numbers last year. Not only have we seen a huge rise in cycling since the pandemic, but participation has also broadened, particularly among people from minority ethnic communities.
“In order to keep up this success we need safe roads for cyclists, and we continue to work with boroughs to roll out cycle lanes, extra pavement space and safer junctions. I urge anyone who has been thinking of taking up cycling to give it a go and get riding this year.”
Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “We know that huge numbers of people have taken up cycling since the pandemic and it is fantastic to see this incredible rise in Santander cycle hire figures, with 2021 seeing the highest ever numbers.
“Cycling and walking are great ways to travel around London and see all the hidden gems that the city has to offer, and helpful for mental and physical well-being too. I’m excited to hopefully go even further than this historic record set in 2021 and urge people to get on their bikes again this year.”
The extension of Santander’s sponsorship until May 2025 will support TfL as it moves forward with planned investment in cycle hire. TfL and Santander say they are committed to expanding the cycle hire scheme to new areas of London and are working closely with Southwark Council to add eight new docking stations across the borough next year.
TfL and Santander are also working to introduce around 500 electric bikes into the scheme from next summer, helping to break down the barriers that stop some people from cycling, including fitness, age and journey length.