TfL’s cycle hire scheme saw more than 10,900,000 hires in 2021 as part of a wider increase in cycling in the capital
“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”
Sadiq Khan
The Mayor of London
TfL’s pioneering Santander cycle hire scheme experienced a historic year in 2021 with a record-breaking number of hires across the year as well as during several different months.

The cycle hire scheme continued to go from strength to strength, with 10.9 million hires taking place in 2021, surpassing the previous best target set in 2018 by 371,000 hires.

More than 1 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 seven per cent 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.

Ensuring that people from all backgrounds feel comfortable cycling is vital to ensure a healthy, green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and the research found that half of Black and Asian non-cyclists (49% and 46% respectively) are open to starting to cycle.

Another new record
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 can be hired from £2 a day for an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys.

The scheme reached 10 million hires via the Santander Cycles app in September 2021, with 2.8 million hires in total taking place through the app in 2021, another new record and a 20% increase on 2020.

The free app is available on Apple and Android App Stores by searching for Santander Cycles. Using the app lets customers skip past the terminal and get release codes sent directly to their phone, so they can hire their cycle more quickly and easily.

Santander Cycles continue 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.

A thriving cycle hire scheme is essential to the Mayor’s plans to make walking and cycling easier, alongside safe cycleways and safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists. TfL continues to work closely with local boroughs to create space for cycling across the city.

This includes building a strategic network for cycling in London, transforming town centres and reducing traffic on residential streets. This work is reliant on continued funding, meaning a long-term sustainable funding deal from the Government for TfL is vital.

Upgraded cycle lanes
Since May 2020, more than 100km of new or upgraded cycle lanes have been built or are under construction, along with tens of thousands of square metres of extra pavement space reallocated for people walking.

The measures mean people are increasingly using bikes to get around their local area and for exercise, with TfL data showing cycling during the pandemic increased by 22% in outer London compared to spring 2019, with a seven per cent rise in inner London.

The 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.’

David Eddington, TfL’s Head of Cycle Hire, said: ’Our popular cycle hire scheme has gone from strength to strength and we’re delighted that it has played a vital role helping millions of Londoners commute to work, explore the capital and exercise across 2021.

‘We’re looking forward to introducing electric bikes and expanding our iconic cycle hire scheme in the coming years, so even more Londoners and visitors can discover the benefits of cycling in the capital.’

Dan Sherwood, Director of Marketing at Santander UK, said: ‘It’s phenomenal to kick off 2022 by celebrating the best year in the history of the scheme.

‘Not only have over a million people used the scheme in 2021, with a growing number of new members signing up as well, but we’re pleased that the scheme continued to support many key workers in the local community with the free code scheme. We look forward to another great year.’

Encourage more Londoners to get cycling
The extension of Santander’s sponsorship until May 2025 will support TfL as it moves forward with planned investment in cycle hire, ensuring the scheme continues to grow and encourage more Londoners to get cycling.

TfL and Santander 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.

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