Barely used Boris Bikes cost council £2m

Pic: Transport for London

Despite 29 per cent of the available bikes being in Tower Hamlets, only 13.5 per cent of the bikes hired in the first two months of the extension were from the borough.
The figures come from a Freedom of Information request by the news organisation MayorWatch.

The borough council spent £2m on setting up the bike scheme in March.

TfL and Barclays bank are covering the costs of the scheme across the rest of the capital in a sponsorship scheme that is shrouded in secrecy.

The figures come from a Freedom of Information request by MayorWatch.

The released data shows that at 10.15 am on October 26, only 41 bikes were being hired out from almost seven thousand available, despite conditions being dry and clear.

Such figures challenge a claim by a TfL spokesperson that the use of Boris Bikes has “skyrocketed” since its expansion to Tower Hamlets. “Boroughs where the scheme is extending have seen the success and benefits of the original scheme, and are keen to contribute towards this proven and cheap way to get around the capital.”

When the scheme was extended to cover Tower Hamlets, the council promised it would give greater accessibility to residents and provide everybody with “the opportunity to cycle.”

But data from TfL shows that 88 per cent of the scheme’s users are white, while half earn more than £50,000.

This is in stark contrast to the borough’s demographic;  only 44 per cent of Tower Hamlets’ residents are white and 53 per cent of its children live in poverty.

Caroline Pidgeon, chair of GLA’s Transport Committee said: “It is time that the bike hire scheme stepped up a gear and dramatically improved its performance and delivered a service to a far wider range of people.”

Tower Hamlet’s Labour party labelled the payment as an act of mayoral incompetence. Its spokesperson on adult health and wellbeing, Councillor Rachael Saunders, said: “This is yet another example of the Tory Mayor promising the world and forcing local councils to step in when he is unable to deliver.”

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