A year since the launch of the Mayor of London's Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme there have been six million journeys undertaken using the new bikes. Barclays have agreed to extend their sponsorship by a further £25 million – thus bringing it to £50 million. For thousands of Londoners the Boris Bike is part of their daily lives. 29,200 cycle journeys were made using Barclays Cycle Hire on its busiest day so far. More than 128,000 people are now Barclays Cycle Hire members. It is envisaged by Transport for London the scheme will break even in three or four years.
There will be a westward expansion of the scheme through the boroughs of Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea. Also Westfield shopping centre In Shepherd's Bush is to provide funding that will allow an early taster of the western expansion by extending Barclays Cycle Hire to the shopping centre by spring 2012. Approximately twelve new docking stations will connect the existing cycle hire zone to Westfield White City and six docking stations will potentially be on the grounds of Westfield London itself. This is hugely welcome not just for those who will use the bikes but for others who will benefit from the ease in traffic congestion.
Last year the Mayor announced that by spring 2012 the Barclays Cycle Hire area will extend beyond central London to include all of the Borough of Tower Hamlets as well as North Shoreditch in the Borough of Hackney. People living in Bethnal Green, Bow, Canary Wharf, Mile End and Poplar will also see docking stations built in their communities.
Altogether 2,000 more cycles and 4,200 extra docking points will be installed across the existing and new Barclays Cycle Hire area when the second phase of expansion is complete – meaning around 8,000 hire bikes will be available from 14,400 docking points at hundreds of locations across central and east London.
In short the whole project has been a huge success. So unable to attack it as a failure. In 1936 HG Wells film Things to Come, Theotocopulos declares: "We shall hate you more if you succeed than if you fail."
Yesterday I was at Westfield and saw the enthusiastic reception for Boris from shoppers. I was delighted. Tim Donovan of the BBC saw the reception too – and looked ashen faced. He reports that Barclays have had good value from their sponsorship. The Lib Dem are also sniping to similar effect. Barclays probably have had good value as it has turned out. But the point is they took a risk. His opponents mocked the prospects of success. It was suggested that no sponsor would come forward, after the Paris scheme was undermined by widespread theft.
Now the people who sneered that he could never find a sponsor for the doomed scheme pop up to say how he should have got a better deal for something that was going to be such an obvious success.