The Reason Why More London Bikers are Renting and Riding

Good news: Biking in London has become more popular. Every year the number of bike hires has increased and this is a good sign towards car-free cities. During summer the number of hired bikes together with the hiring time increases. This increase is mostly attributed to good weather but not only. In an effort to green commuting, London City has been pushing towards bike friendly policies.

Imagine yourself as a tourist in London. London is exciting and fun but it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world and the tube costs are quite high. Would you consider renting a bike to move around? Would it matter if it’s cold or warm? Would it matter if you had to bike for long?

The Brits might not be as crazy to cycle as the Dutch or the Danes, but with increasing bike infrastructure in London bikers are having it a lot easier to ride in a convenient, safe and obvious way to get around.

There’s a certain sense of freedom in biking. You hop on and pedal to wherever your legs can take you. Not only it takes you places, but biking has so many good externalities for your health and the environment.

However, cycling in big cities where pollution is the highest is not that easy. Cyclists face long distances, bad weather, heavy traffic, increasing number of traffic lights, lack of infrastructure and these are only a few of plenty of obstacles.
However the claim that distances are longer in large cities relies on the typical day-to-day journeys people make In reality, most trip lengths in large cities are actually short.

Huge improvements have been made to London’s cycling network over the last decade, with more driver awareness campaigns, higher safety precautions, more cycle lanes and extensions to the Santander Cycles scheme.

This report is going to look at the number of bike hires in London and the average hire time per month.

Data and Insights

Figure 1 below shows that the number of bike hires has increased since 2010. In 2017 there were more a bit more than 10 million bike hires in London and until 2018 there were 8 million hires recorded for this year.

Figure 1: Number of bicycle hires each yearScreen Shot 2019-01-03 at 1.17.46 PM

Figure 2 below shows the ongoing fluctuation of bicycle hires each month since September 2010. During September 2010 there were 540 thousand bikes hired in London, when as compared to 8 years later in the same month, there were over a million bikes hired.

Figure 2: Number of bicycle hires each month
Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 1.18.13 PM
Hiring time has relatively decreased and spread out a bit more among months. Figure 3 below shows that the average hire time of a single bike in July 2018 was 23 min as when compared to April 2010 when the average hiring time was 27 min.

Figure 3: Average hire time
Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 1.18.30 PM
During winter the length of a bike hire is smaller as weather does not allow for an enjoyable riding. However, what is remarkable is that the average hiring time has lower yearly variation now than it had 8 years ago and is spreading more and more out throughout the entire year.
One could claim that Londoners are caring less about the cold wind and more about getting healthy and saving the environment.
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