LIFE in the saddle on the streets of London improved dramatically this week thanks to a long-established Stratford firm.
The next generation of Santandar Cycles – once nicknamed ‘Boris Bikes’ – hit the streets of the capital after being completely revamped by Pashley Cycles.
The Mason’s Road firm, which was founded in 1926 and has 53 staff, was selected last year to develop and build a new and improved bike for London’s cycle hire scheme as part of an £80million five year contract between Transport for London (TfL) and Serco.
The new lighter bikes offer riders better handling, safety and comfort, with a new gel saddle, lower frame, puncture-proof tyres, upgraded brakes, improved front and rear lighting, and even inbuilt bluetooth and the capacity for GPS technology.
They have been designed to be easier to ride and also to maintain, meaning more cycles will be available to hire more often, and maintenance costs will also be reduced.
Adrian Williams, Pashley Cycles CEO, said: “I am immensely proud of our team’s achievement in successfully developing a completely new bicycle for London.
“It is a bicycle of exceptional quality, designed with the rider’s safety and enjoyment in mind, whilst ensuring that maintenance and operating costs are kept to a minimum.
“Our team have worked in close partnership with Serco throughout the project to ensure that we deliver the world class public hire bike London deserves.”
The bikes were first introduced in 2010 and there are currently some 11,500 in use. They have proved popular with both Londoners and tourists, and last year the bikes were hired 10.3million times.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “It’s great news that the first of our brand-new cycle hire bikes have arrived on London’s streets. Tens of thousands of Londoners and tourists enjoy using the bikes to get around our city every single day, so by making them more comfortable and manoeuvrable we’re hoping they’ll be even more popular. That’s good for our health, our air quality and for tackling congestion.”
Serco will continue to maintain the bikes, as well as distribute them around London ensuring docking stations are full.
Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “Santander Cycles are a brilliant way for all abilities to experience cycling around London.
“They’ve become a real icon of the capital’s streets, appealing to commuters and visitors, so I’m really pleased that we can make them even easier to use. I’ve no doubt that these upgraded bikes are going to encourage even more people to take to two wheels.”
Keith Moor, chief marketing officer at Santander, highlighted the the new technology included.
He said: “The new cycles have been designed to meet the evolving needs of London as an always on, connected smart city. We’re really excited about the new tech on the cycle, it’s been built in a modular way so we can easily add and update it.”
And Lucy Cooper, partnerships manager at London Cycling Campaign, said the new Pashley bikes would easier to use for both short and tall riders, while Lilli Matson, TfL’s director of transport strategy, was confident they would encourage even more people to try the scheme.
The launch of the new bikes is accompanied by a new video starring brand ambassador and former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button.