Few will lament the end of the association of Barclays with the Mayor’s cycle hire scheme. Despite the promise of £50m sponsorship, barely half of that has emerged. Barclays logos have been lavishly splashed across London’s streets, while the bill for installing the ‘Boris bikes’ has in fact been left to councils, and users who have seen fares double in the past year.
If we are to learn from the mistakes of the past we must ditch the idea that essential public transport options, which cycle hire is, should be paid for by private sponsorship. We don’t have the ‘Lloyds Underground’ or ‘Virgin DLR’ for good reasons. If cycle hire is worth investing in (which I believe it is) it should be funded centrally from TfL’s budget, and, crucially, integrated with other transport options. In the short term this may mean Londoners pay more for the bikes, but with the result that London gains a city-wide affordable cycle scheme giving all of us the chance to travel sustainably and healthily, and, dare I say, with a bit more fun that a crowded train carriage.
Written by regular K&C cyclist, iloveBorisBikes.com