An expansion of the Boris bikes scheme was today credited with helping a south London borough record the biggest increase in cycling in the country.
Wandsworth saw the proportion of residents cycling increase from 18 per cent to 31 per cent, placing it second only to Richmond in London (33 per cent) and in fifth place nationally, behind Cambridge (58 per cent), Oxford (43 per cent) and York (34 per cent).
The hire bikes were introduced in Wandsworth in December 2013 as part of an expansion of Boris Johnson’s scheme to west and south west London. Last month they were used 104,456 times in the borough.
Two part-segregated cycle superhighways introduced by the former mayor – CS7 between Merton and the City, and CS8 linking Wandsworth and Westminster – also pass through the borough.
The Department for Transport figures, which looked at the number of people cycling at least once a month in the 12-month period to last October, found cycling rates in Wandsworth were more than double the national average of 14.7 per cent.
Jonathan Cook, Wandsworth council’s transport spokesman, said: “These figures are very encouraging and seem to tally with the latest census data and Transport for London travel surveys which suggest more and more Wandsworth residents are embracing pedal power.
“Major initiatives like extending the cycle hire scheme into our borough and upgrading our cycle route network have made a real difference.”
TfL has no plans for another major expansion of the scheme, which earlier this year was extended to the Olympic Park. However councils are able to apply for extra docking stations within 200-500 metres of an existing station.
There are 62 stations in Wandsworth, with the council keen to work with new mayor Sadiq Khan and developers to deliver more on the Nine Elms regeneration area in Battersea.
Mr Cook said: “We are about to start work on a borough-wide 20mph zone and are working with TfL on plans for cycling improvements at Tooting Broadway.
“Encouraging Londoners to embrace cycling is key to freeing up space on our overcrowded trains, Tubes and buses, as well as reducing traffic and tackling air pollution. Wandsworth Council will continue to play its part and as a city we have to be bold and explore every opportunity to increase cycling and walking in the years ahead.”
The DfT figures, based on Sport England’s annual phone survey, also revealed that Croydon saw the 10th biggest increase in the country, from 5.9 per cent to 12.8 per cent.