Barclays will end its sponsorship of Boris Bikes after almost three years, forcing Transport for London to look for a new backer for its cycle hire program.
The announcement comes about a month after five cyclist died in nine days in the capital.
However, a spokesman for the bank told Huffington Post that the decision had nothing to do with recent tragedies; rather it was the result of the long-term analysis of the sponsorship agreement, said to be worth £50 million.
Boris bikes first debuted in 2010, one of the first steps in Mayor Boris Johnson’s vision of the cycle becoming a London icon, on par with double decker buses and black cabs. Currently, the Boris Bike scheme runs in ELL boroughs Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
Barclays will continue to sponsor until the contract runs out in 2015.
Grame Craig, Director of Commercial Development for Transport for London, said in a statement: “Barclays has not pulled out of the cycle hire sponsorship deal. After the current sponsorship deal with Barclays ends – in two years’ time – the cycle sponsorship portfolio will fundamentally change.”
Craig said he expected cycle hire to become part of a much wider and larger sponsorship offer, including new routes through south London, cycling training, and a new fully integrated pay-as-you-go contactless card payment scheme.
He said that TfL would look for new commercial partners to add to the £913 million that is already devoted to cycling in the capital.
Craig added: “TfL thanks Barclays very much for its fantastic support of this scheme. Both are very much looking forward to celebrating the major milestone of the extension to the Barclays cycle hire scheme to south-west London this Friday.”
However, Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said Barclays were “bailing out.”
Pidgeon said: “Barclays have received immense benefits from the publicity given to the cycle hire scheme in its early years, but now that its performance is looking shaky they appear to be bailing out.”
Compared to the same period last year, the number of hires for Boris Bikes dropped substantially between May and November 2013, according to official figures
Rental fees for cycle hires were doubled from £1 to £2 at the beginning of 2013, and the annual membership was also doubled from £45 to £90.
The cycles had a record 47,105 hires on August 12 during the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Boris bikes are also generally considered to be safer than their counterparts. Between 2010 and the end of May 2013 there were over 22 million hires for trips around London without a single cycle death.
Philippine De Gerin-Ricard, 20, was the first person to be killed on a Boris bike along the east London line. She was hit and killed by a lorry outside the Aldgate East tube station on Whitechapel High Street on 6 July 2013.