February 17th, 2014
Launched in 2010 and backed by Barclays Bank, the London cycle hire scheme was championed by Boris Johnson.
It was hoped that the scheme would benefit Londoners by reducing the number of cars on the roads and consequently improve air pollution. It also aimed to encourage people to get on their bikes and increase their physical activity by cycling to their destinations rather than hopping in a cab or taking the underground thus improving the general health of those living and working in the Capital.
A study by the Medical Research Council, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London has shown that the scheme has had a positive effect on its users health and in particular on users over 45. The study, which looked at data from April 2011 to March 2012, tracked 578,607 users’ journeys and monitored physical activity, road traffic collisions and air pollution.
There were concerns, when the cycle hire scheme was initially introduced, that there would be an increase in collisions as a result of increasing the number of inexperienced cyclists in central London. The study found that this was not to be the case and that the pros “substantially outweighed” the cons when injury rates on hired bikes were taken into account.