In 2023, South Londoners will see seven new docking stations for the Santander Cycles scheme across Bermondsey and Walworth.
Following a record-breaking year, with more hires made in 2022 (11,506,889) than any other year in the scheme’s history, Santander Cycles is making their cycle hire scheme more accessible to the south side of the river Thames.
As part of progressing the scheme, in October 2021, Santander Cycles also introduced 500 docked e-bikes.
David Eddington, TfL’s head of cycle hire, explained that each docking station is now likely to contain a mix of bikes, allowing the rider to choose whether they want an e-bike or regular bike.
He said: “The scheme is readily available for people who maybe don’t have their own bikes, or don’t want to have their own bike, or don’t have the room or they may be worried about cycle theft.
“We’re very keen to expand. There are constraints, there are financial obstacles to overcome. But the scheme has been successful and there is a lot of demand from a lot of different powers to go to their boroughs.”
Simon Saville from Southwark Cyclists, part of the London Cycling Campaign, welcomed recent developments, as Southwark has long been a deprived area of London for cyclists.
He said: “The further you go south there are fewer tubes, fewer rail links, bus routes become less frequent and therefore Santander bikes become a more important part of the mix.
“And they’re important, not just for that reason, but because two of the barriers to people cycling are that they can’t afford a bike and that they’ve got nowhere to store it.
“I think a lot of people have kept up cycling following the pandemic. As you start to tip the balance of vehicles on the road, it begins to feel safer to be on a bike.
“You need segregated cycle lanes, or advanced stop lines at junctions where you get the bikes in front, early release signals where the bike goes first.
“You’ve got to break down barriers and show that cycling isn’t just for the white, middle class.”
Keir Gallagher, campaigns manager at Cycling UK, agreed that the scheme is a good way to get people into cycling.
He added: “It’s a fantastic scheme but its big limitation has always been its coverage.
It has always been fairly central and that really limits how many people can use it, so expanding it into more residential areas and into South London is obviously fantastic.
“I’m sure we’re going to see some of the uptake that we’ve seen in other areas.
“Lockdown proved what those of us inside the world of cycling already knew, which is that if there is a safe space for cycling, people will use it.
“So, when the roads were quiet, people felt safe to go out, because there was significantly less motor traffic and it made it a much less intimidating environment to cycle in.”
Southwark Cyclists try and tackle such barriers of a lack of inclusivity and lack of confidence when cycling through hosting weekly rides of different distances – the aim being that inexperienced cyclists can cycle in a small group on safe roads and learn how to become a more confident road cyclist.
The Santander Cycles scheme was set up in 2010 and Santander became the official sponsor of the scheme in 2015.
This year will also see expansion further west, resulting in 2,000 bikes across 150 docking stations in Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth, and Kensington & Chelsea.
With the expansion of the Santander Cycles scheme also comes the potential for safer provisions for cyclists in London.