Barclays is to end its sponsorship of the so-called Boris Bikes, introduced by London Mayor Boris Johnson to the capital in 2010. The bank's logo has adorned the blue cycles since their introduction three years ago. But Transport for London (TfL) will be forced to look for a new sponsor after Barclays announced plans to discontinue with the deal at the end of its contract in 2015.
The announcement comes in the wake of concerns over cycling safety in the capital, following a spate of deaths of London's roads. However, a Barclays spokesman said the decision was the result of a long-term analysis of the sponsorship agreement and had nothing to do with the recent tragedies.
In a statement, TfL's Graeme Craig, said: "Barclays has not pulled out of the cycle hire sponsorship deal. After the current sponsorship deal with Barclays ends - in two years' time - the cycle sponsorship portfolio will fundamentally change. Cycle hire will become part of a much wider and larger cycling sponsorship offer encompassing cycle hire and the major new commitments made in the Mayor's cycling vision - new flagship segregated routes through the heart of London, new Quietway backstreet routes, along with cycle training and potentially other forms of active travel. The cycle hire scheme will be fully integrated with our plans for pay-as-you-go contactless card payments, making it a fully joined up part of the transport system."
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The bikes were launched amid much fanfare in August 2010, with nearly a million journeys made within the first 10 weeks of the scheme being rolled out. However, some rental prices have soared, while in August this year 20-year-old French woman Philippine Degerin-Ricard became the first person to be killed riding a Boris Bike, after she was struck by a lorry on Whitechapel High Street in east London. Craig said TfL would seek a replacement for Barclays when the current deal, thought to be worth around £50 million, comes to a close.
He said: "In recognition of the growing demand for cycling expenditure, TfL is to seek new commercial partners to add significant sponsorship income to the £913 million already devoted to cycling. There will be no reduction in public funds spent on the cycling programme, which have been entirely protected from the cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement.
"Barclays remains committed to the sponsorship agreement signed in 2010, but the bank and TfL have decided not to take up the option to extend it. Several months ago Barclays began the process of a strategic review of its sponsorship programmes and has now made a commercial decision not to continue the sponsorship.
"TfL thanks Barclays very much for its fantastic support of this scheme. Both are very much looking forward to celebrating the major milestone of the extension to the Barclays cycle hire scheme to south-west London this Friday."
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: "Barclays have received immense benefits from the publicity given to the cycle hire scheme in its early years, but now that its performance is looking shaky they appear to be bailing out. "Fundamental questions have to be asked as to how such a one-sided deal was ever struck between Transport for London and Barclays."