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Photograph: Alena Veasey /

Hooray for the planet! 2021 was the best ever year for the Santander bike scheme

A staggering one million Londoners hopped on a Santander bike last year

Written by
Ellie Muir

Santander cycles (more fondly known as Boris bikes) were hired nearly 11 million times in London last year.

More than one million people used the scheme, which has out-pedalled the previous record set in 2018, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Throughout September and October (which saw more than a million hires), an average of 7,500 commuters ditched TFL services and opted for a Santander bike between 7am and 10am on weekdays.

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.’

He added: ‘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.’

Although Londoners have taken to the cycle paths during the pandemic, car usage is already back to normal, which has led the Mayor to warn Londoners this week that the city faces a threat of ‘filthy air and gridlocked roads’, if car usage isn’t curbed soon.

City Hall has advised that more than two-thirds of car journeys made in London could be cycled in less than 20 minutes, and will continue to encourage Londoners to rethink short journeys across the city. Since 2020, more than 100 kilometres of new or upgraded cycle lanes have been built or are under construction, and the Mayor will continue to campaign for expanding green modes of travel for Londoners.

Will Norman, London’s (first ever) Walking and Cycling Commissioner added: ‘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.’

London's cyclists are doing their bit for the planet. Now it’s the drivers turn to step up their game, hop on a bike and ensure our air doesn’t get any filthier.

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