New figures released by Transport for London (TfL) show that its Santander Cycles scheme has provided a lifeline to tens of thousands of Londoners by enabling them to safely make essential journeys during the coronavirus pandemic. New 24-hour Santander Cycles membership registrations rose by 167 per cent in the year to December 2020, representing the largest increase in the scheme’s 10-year history. Meanwhile, registrations for new annual memberships increased by a quarter.

Total hire numbers for 2020 were 10,434,167 – an increase of around 6,000 hires from 2019 – despite a significant overall reduction in journeys across London during the pandemic. Santander Cycles have played a crucial role in keeping London moving during the coronavirus pandemic as more people have turned to cycling for their exercise and transport. Over the course of last year, the previous maximum daily hire number of 50,000 was surpassed on 14 separate days as record numbers of people tried Santander Cycles for the first time. The festive period also continued to be very busy for Santander Cycles with more than 60,000 hires made between the 25 and 28 December, as people took advantage of quieter streets and dry weather.

In 2020, Santander Cycles played a crucial role in supporting key workers during the pandemic. Free cycle hire access codes have been provided for NHS staff and other key workers, with 217,710 hires so far since it was made available in March 2020. Almost 18,000 people have benefited from the offer to date. The busiest location for NHS code redemption is the docking station on Lambeth Palace Road, Waterloo, near to St Thomas’s Hospital. The offer has been repeatedly extended and is now valid until 21 February.

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To celebrate its tenth anniversary year, TfL and cycle hire scheme sponsor Santander have awarded a free annual membership to a dedicated cycle hire user for each month of 2020, naming a bike in their honour. Today, TfL has named the final five winners of the competition, covering August – December:

  • Jessica Streeting is a children’s nurse working in central London, who has used TfL’s cycle hire scheme to cycle 15 miles round-trip to work on many occasions since the scheme launched 10 years ago. “Santander Cycles are a reliable, enjoyable lifeline to me and especially in winter as they have great lights and are always well maintained”, she says. “When a patient lives out of the borough and I need to get on a train to see them, I’ll often hire a Santander Cycle at the station to see me home, it saves me worrying about lights and locks. Santander Cycles are keeping me safe and healthy and they’re perfect for nurses!”
  • Matt Lambert, from Hackney, says of TfL’s Cycle Hire scheme: “My love affair with Santander Cycles began, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day nearly six years ago. Since then, I’ve used the bikes close to 2,000 times as part of my commute, to get to and from places like the gym and supermarket, and to explore pockets of London that would otherwise have remained hidden. For me the scheme is a win-win, saving me money while also boosting my fitness, cutting travel times and allowing me to play a small part in reducing London’s air pollution. Following a major physical trauma in November 2019, which left me temporarily disabled, Santander Cycles also became a personal milestone when I rode a bike again for the first time in nearly six months. They’ve been an important part of my recovery ever since.”
  • TfL’s cycle hire scheme inspired Nitij Arora, from Canary Wharf, to become a regular cyclist. An early user of the scheme, his first cycle hire ride quickly turned into a daily event on his office commute into the City. “It’s such great exercise and is perfect for saving time and money at the same time”, he says. He has since purchased his own bike and has begun cycling with his daughter. He is a trustee of the Tower Hamlets Carers Centre and would like to dedicate this win to the carers of the Tower Hamlets.
  • Owen Calvert, from Paddington, has embraced Santander Cycles for the first time at the start of the pandemic, and credits the scheme with helping him tackle his long-term anxiety. “I’m kicking myself for not taking the plunge sooner”, he says. “My day now feels incomplete without hopping on a Santander bike. There is simply no better feeling than riding smoothly and safely across London and exchanging smiles and nods with other cyclists and road users.”