Two-thirds of London's Boris bikes need repairs
Casualty rates are 'better than feared', says TfL
Two-thirds of London's "Boris bikes" have had to undergo repairs in their first six months of operation, new figures on the state of the capital's fleet of cycles for hire have revealed.
Transport for London (TfL) has disclosed that their repair teams are being called out to fix the rental bikes at the rate of more than 30 every day of the week, as the strain of millions of journeys takes its toll.
The majority of the repairs were described as due to "wear and tear", but more than 100 bikes have needed repairs after being vandalised since the fleet went live last summer. On average, nearly 200 of the 5,400 bikes at any one time are so badly damaged that they are taken out of service.
Critics claimed that the high rate of repairs was a result of TfL opting for "unwieldy machines" over more sophisticated bikes. "These cycles are hardly user-friendly when you're riding them, but it seems that they are liable to loosen up or seize up at an alarming rate," said Peter Hunter, a cyclist who has complained that the hire bikes were a "bargain-basement" purchase. "It looks like these are the sort of problems that can't be sorted on the go."
But TfL has attempted to play down the significance of the figures, with one official insisting that the casualty rate was "better than we'd feared". The authority, which pays the company Serco to maintain the fleet, points out that it has not yet had to pay any extra charges above its regular monthly fee. A TfL spokesman said: "Many of the repairs that take place are minor, such as tightening of brake or gear cables, and do not therefore require bicycles to be out of use for long."
The £140m hire scheme, launched with the support of Barclays, has attracted more than 100,000 registered users since last July, and officials estimate that they have travelled more than seven million miles already.
The bikes, which travel at an average of about 10 miles an hour, have been described as "almost indestructible", although road-safety campaigners have called for them to carry helmets.
But figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday under Freedom of Information legislation show that the bikes – and their docking stations – have come in for a battering. Some 3,566 bikes have had to be mended. TfL has confirmed that he figures show that an average of 181 bikes are out of service at any one time – and three have been damaged beyond repair. Six docking stations were damaged by road accidents, and six more were vandalised. But the unappealing appearance of the bikes might have contributed to the low number of thefts – only 10 in six months.
"The total number of stolen bikes is still significantly lower than has been the case with similar international cycle hire schemes," the TfL spokesman said. "As some of the bikes seem to have been stolen because they weren't docked correctly, we are reminding customers to wait for the green light indicating the bike has been safely docked."
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigera
Raphael Ravenscroft dead: 'Baker Street' musician who played the most famous saxophone solo for just £27, dies aged 60
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...
£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...