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Transport for London reveals Boris Bike accident figures

Hire bikes involved in 34 incidents during first two months of scheme's operation...

Figures released following a Freedom of Information Act request have revealed that the emergency services were called to 13 incidents involving cyclists using London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme bikes during the two months following its launch at the end of July.

Data from Transport for London also showed that there were a total of 34 recorded incidents involving users of the distinctive navy blue ‘Boris Bikes’ up to the end of September.

A further five incidents related to the scheme were recorded, including one in which a female cyclist was knocked off her bike by a trailer used to transport bicycles between docking stations.

According to a report in the Evening Standard, the first recorded incident took place five days after the scheme became operational on 30 July when a lorry squashed a man using one of the hire bikes against a kerb.

Other incidents included a cyclist who was left with a head injury after a bus hit him, plus a seven-year-old child who barely avoided injury after a docking station that had been hit by a car fell on them.

The newspaper added that while national cyclists’ organisation CTC supported the scheme, it felt that more could be done to improve safety of cyclists in London, including better road design, lower speed limits and the much-heralded Barclays Cycle Superhighways not just being “blue paint on the side of a bus lane,” in the words of policy co-ordinator Chris Peck.

A TfL spokeswoman told the newspaper: “Despite the fact that over 1.6 million Barclays Cycle Hire journeys have been made since the launch of the scheme almost four months ago, we had just 10 reports of users being injured while using the bikes during the first 11 weeks of operation.”

However, Ray Sadri, from the think tank LondonSays, called for free helmets to be made available to the scheme’s users, with the costs met by private companies, saying: “Many of the Boris Bikers I spoke to resent the idea of having to fork out £30 on average for a decent helmet.”

That call was echoed by cyclist David Ellis, a photographer from Stoke Newington, who earlier this month was knocked off his bike and dragged under the wheels of one of the trailers used to transport bikes between docking stations.

Mr Ellis claims that the trailers represent “a danger to cyclists” because they are wider than the electric vehicles used to tow them and urged their removal, as well as asking Mayor Boris Johnson to encourage the scheme’s users to wear helmets when using the hire bikes.

Last month, it was revealed that more than a million journeys had been made through the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in the first three months following its launch.

If we estimate that roughly two thirds of those journeys may have taken place within the first two months of the scheme being in operation, that suggests an accident rate, in terms of the ones that the emergency services attended, of just 0.002%.

With data regarding the average distance travelled on London's Cycle Hire Scheme bikes not available, it's impossible to put the figures into the context of overall cycling casualty statistics. However, by way of illustration, DfT figures show that in the UK in 2007, per billion kilometres travelled, the equivalent of 35 cyclists were killed and 541 killed or seriously injured among total casualty figures of 3,814.

That provides strong evidence against critics of the scheme who had warned before it became operational that London's streets risked becoming swamped with inexperienced cyclists and predicted a rise in accidents as a result of the hire bikes.

In September, the road safety charity Brake called for bike helmets to be made compulsory for all users of the scheme, with spokeswoman Julia Townsend telling “We support mandatory helmet use for all cyclists across the board. We support schemes that promote safe cycling and walking but we would prefer to see investment in safe cycling paths that allow people to walk and ride separated from traffic rather than a scheme that allows people to hire a bike and ride through busy London streets without ensuring they have the appropriate safety gear.”

A TfL spokesman said at the time that the choice of whether or not to wear a helmet rested with the individual cyclist, telling the Press Association: "There have been six incidents where a cycle hire user has been injured since the scheme launched on July 30. This should be seen in the context of the 750,000-plus cycle journeys that have been made on the hire bikes to date.

"The use of cycle helmets in the UK is not a legal requirement, which means it is up to each user to decide whether or not they wish to wear one. In addition, for a helmet to be effective it has to be the appropriate size and fitted properly.

"TfL encourages cycle hire users to consider wearing helmets, as is stated in the scheme's code of conduct," he added.




Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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iambrianjones | 13 years ago
1 like

I would like to see this original document. I can't beleive the emergency services are recording the type of bike that was involved in these incidents.

BigDummy | 13 years ago
1 like

I like the Boris Bikes.

They have to be ridden the way my cargo bike does, or the way those beautiful girls with swooshy hair and silly shoes ride their Pashleys. It's a lot safer than charging around in day-glo on your sport hybrid racing scooters.

I'm not at all surprised the accident rate is low. Clearly is an issue with the trailers though...

ronmelancon | 13 years ago

Please go to and take note that no MOT is in place for people who tow small trailers. Every life is important and know that these trailers also come loose and hit bike riders....and people and cars.

Please note that [at] is working with Mrs. Julitte Blake at thefamilyblake

You Country has suffered many deaths and injuries by Small Trailers that do not have a MOT but take the lives of Children and Adults and the only people who care is the above mentioned people. Why did this mom have to loose her child? See this video..

We are ready to help!!

jonnyburn | 13 years ago
1 like

surprisingly low, given the shenanigans i have witnessed from the users of these machines.

LondonCalling | 13 years ago

Another "non-story" from the Evening Standard to give a platfomr to the usual anti-cyclist rants. Should be dutifuly ignored.

samanosuke | 13 years ago
1 like

"a seven-year-old child who barely avoided injury after a docking station that had been hit by a car fell on them"

....or the way I see it, the kid would have been injured (or worse) had he/she not been saved by the tactically placed docking station.

G-bitch | 13 years ago

I witnessed Boris Bike syndrom when in London a few weeks back - imagine dozens of smiling, happy air-head tourists and daytrippers riding along as if on a suicide mission. Terrifying. However, it does make drivers more cautious as no-one know what the hell they're going to do next!

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