Barclays to quit 'Boris Bike' scheme as cyclist deaths soar
Bank will end £50m sponsorship in 2015 as accidents rise and number of people using the scheme plummets
BARCLAYS is preparing to "part company" with London's bicycle hire scheme in the wake of increased public safety concerns and a mounting cycling death toll, The Independent reports.
The bank has been the high-profile scheme's sponsor since it was launched in 2010. Three years on, it has confirmed plans to discontinue its contract in 2015, the paper says.
Barclays says its decision is part of a "wider review of commercial partnerships", as the bank examines deals brokered directly by its former chief executive Bob Diamond. But the Independent notes that it comes in the wake of "increased public concern" about the dangers of cycling in London.
Six cyclists were killed on the capital's roads in November, prompting demonstrations by angry riders. In July, Philippine De Gerin-Ricard, a 20-year-old French student became the first person to be killed riding a 'Boris bike'.
Meanwhile, fewer people are using the scheme each month, although it is unclear if the 'dramatic slump' - a fall of 200,000 a month on average - is due to safety concerns or other factors, ITV News says.
The Guardian understands that Barclays executives met London mayor Boris Johnson's "cycling tsar" Andrew Gilligan, last month to tell him the bank would be withdrawing its backing. The bank and Transport for London (TfL) are continuing to discuss the issue, the paper says.
The mayor, who had close ties to Diamond, said in 2011 that Barclays would extend its sponsorship deal until 2018. While he had vowed that the bike scheme would not cost London taxpayers a penny, figures obtained from TfL this year showed that "sponsorship and user charges covered barely half the costs", the Guardian says.
Questions have also been raised about whether, under the terms of its three-year contract, Barclays would pay all of its £50 million sponsorship fee. The London assembly has warned the mayor more broadly about TfL's "ad hoc approach to sponsorship" which could expose it to unnecessary reputational risk from sponsors, says The Guardian.
The mayor has yet to comment on Barclays' withdrawal from the scheme. ·