Barclay’s logo covered thousands of bikes since the contract began in 2010. But the Bank decided to end the deal three years before the agreement in 2015. The promised scheme was worth £50 million, paid over eight years. However, it got canceled midway with only half of the payment.
The Mayor, Boris Johnson, drew criticism in the assembly, with parliamentarians questioning the extension of the deal in 2015 and the lack of money paid. Close links of Boris and Diamond, who was then the CEO of Barclays, raised questions on the issuance of the contract in 2010.
One of the members, Caroline Pidgeon, said: “Barclays has 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.”
Barclay’s reasons for the withdrawal
Many experts believe that the decision is amid the safety of cycling in the city. The increased public concern and recent cycling accidents may have contributed to their decision. The first tragedy occurred in 2013 when a 20-year-old student lost her life after being involved in a traffic collision on Boris’s bike.
But Barclays continues to emphasize that the decision is strategic. The sponsor commented that it is a commercial decision made after partnership reviews under ex-executive Diamond. A similar decision was made for the Premier League, ATP Tennis, and Hay festival.
A new deal with Santander
An agreement was reached with a Spanish bank, Santander soon after Barclay’s withdrawal. The deal is worth £7 million a year, with the blue Boris bikes now red with a new logo. The official name also changed from Barclays to Santander.
Upon the project completion, Boris Johnson said: “As everyone knows, London buses, phone kiosks, and post boxes are red. In Santander Cycles, we have a new red icon symbolizing the Capital to Londoners and the world. Santander’s marketing expertise will help us take the Cycle Hire scheme to a new level, and I am thrilled to welcome them.”
The demand for cycles has grown significantly over the years in London. And the new sponsorship promises a change in the safety and growth of the project.
Expansion of the scheme
The director of commercial development of transport for London reacted by commenting that the Mayor’s cycling vision to continue despite the recent withdrawal. He also revealed the next step for cycling, which includes new routes, training, and card payments.
At the time of the introduction of the project, only 350 docking stations with 5000 bicycles were there. But now, it has almost 780 docking stations with 6700 cycles. The scheme has also stretched in terms of area covered with over 100 sq km route, making it one of the largest in Europe.