This week sees the roll out of new Sadiq Cycles, replacing the old Boris Bikes that have been available to tourists and Londoners alike over the last seven years. Officially known by their sponsor’s name – Santander Cycles – the machines are available for short rental by people using London’s roads.
The new Sadiq Cycles have one major change by comparison to their predecessors – they have 24 inch wheels, smaller than the 26 inch wheels of the Boris Bikes. This is supposed to make the machines more nimble and comfortable to ride.
Each machine has Bluetooth connectivity and is tracked by the scheme’s maintenance firm Serco, who ensure every Sadiq Cycle is in good condition throughout its lifecycle.
The bikes are colloquially known after the current London Mayor Sadiq Khan. He said of the new machines, “It’s great news that the first of our brand-new cycle hire bikes have arrived on London’s streets. Tens of thousands of Londoners and tourists enjoy using the bikes to get around our city every single day, so by making them more comfortable and manoeuvrable we’re hoping they’ll be even more popular. That’s good for our health, our air quality and for tackling congestion.”
Advantage of a smaller wheel
Smaller wheeled bikes are nippier than their larger wheeled counterparts as you accelerate more quickly. Where speed is king at the traffic lights, this makes for a safer start at green.
Smaller wheeled bikes are more stable at typical cycle cruising speeds of around 12mph. Another important factor is manoeuvrability – they turn in tighter circles than bikes with bigger wheels, meaning that you can get out of trouble a bit quicker and potentially avoid becoming a statistic.
A final point to note about bikes with smaller wheels is that they can accommodate shorter riders. Men and women alike (of vastly differing heights) will be using Sadiq Cycles and even shorties like me will be able to ride one of the new bikes with minimal adjustment!
Roll out of scheme to new boroughs
London’s transport authorities want more people to cycle and walk around the metropolitan area. Having a cheap and comfortable machine to ride just where it is needed is core to that philosophy.
To that extent, the new bikes will now be available at seven Santander Cycle stations in Brixton, greatly increasing the range that Sadiq Cycle users can go. 200 bikes will be based in Brixton, which should help tackle the problems of congestion in the borough.
The more bikes the better?
While there is great emphasis on cycling in Transport for London’s infrastructure plans for the city, London lags far behind many metropolitan centres in the world in terms of cycle paths and even numbers of cycling road users. Having the opportunity to use municipally owned Sadiq Cycles may well get more people on their own bikes and with that reduce the amount of clashes between car and cycle users in London. That can’t be a bad thing, taking a long-term view!