Celebrating five years of Boris Bikes

Transport for London officially launched its cycle hire scheme to the public on 30 July 2010. I should remember, I was interviewed by Daily Mirror for an article on 'A day in the life of a Boris bike'.

Five years on, what do we know about how the scheme is used? I dug into open data released by Transport for London to revisit a day in the life of the scheme. I zoomed right in on 30 July in honour of the anniversary, looking at 2012, 2013 and 2014 – the only years for which data is available. Here's what I learned.

Key facts

Number of Boris bike journeys taken each day



On 30 July 2014, about 42,000 Boris bike journeys were taken. This is an increase from the previous years. Worried there was such a dip in 2013? It probably has a lot to do with the weather – it was a bit rainy on that day in 2013, as you can see in the charts below.

27 miles


One bike travelled over 27 miles on 30 July 2014! It was checked out 15 different times to rack up the miles (see its journey below). It probably went further than that even – we don't know what route they took between docking stations so can only calculate the distance between the points. When you take into consideration the twists and turns of London, it's probably several miles more.

17:00 – 18:00

This is one of the busiest hours for the hire bicycles. On 30 July 2014, it was the busiest hour, with 4651 journeys started then. In both 2012 and 2013, the hour between 16:00–17:00 was actually slightly busier, but only by a few journeys.

Belgrove St

The two stations with the highest peak in traffic were Belgrove Street station (just across from King's Cross/St Pancras railway station) and Waterloo 3 (outside Watlerloo rail station). It is likely that they are used by commuters coming into and going out of the city – ironic, considering the initial design of the scheme was to avoid commuters and many of the docking points were purposefully not placed at stations. At least TfL learned quickly!

The daily grind


How many bikes are in circulation each day?


A day in the life of a Boris bike