Barclays taking over cycling

I may have missed something while on holiday. A press release has just landed in my inbox with Kulveer Ranger chirping about ‘Barclays cycle superhighways’ . I had not realised that the bank was not just sponsoring the London bike scheme but also the so-called superhighways, which are anything but ‘super’ from what I have seen of them.

If this is true, exactly how does it work? How is Barclays getting any kudos from this. And then the all too-painful truth hit me. The superhighways are being painted the Barclays blue. Please, someone, tell me this is not true? Or is this the start of a new trend. Virgin will obviously get the red bus lanes and why stop at roads? Morrison’s can have the amber lights, Lloyd’s the green ones. There are endless possibilities: road crossings will have to change their name from Pelican to Penguin so that they can be sponsored by the chocolate bar, and only destinations on road signs that can support advertising will be repainted when they fade.

It’s Boris’s big plan: London is for sale. Silly me for not realising it. Or someone please tell me that the superhighway blue is a coincidence?

  • Mark Etherington

    The colour of the cycle superhighways is apparently a coincidence, although the bike hire branding is deliberate:

  • Kerry

    If Barclays is putting their name all over the superficial highway system, seems like we should start complaining to their PR department about how crap they are.

  • Stu

    Does it really matter? I’m no Barclays fan, and I consider myself unlikely to move my bank accounts to them merely because they sponsor London cycle lanes. On the other hand, the millions in sponsorship TFL are getting is making the Mayor’s cycling schemes more affordable.

  • Dave

    There is always a risk with any sponsorship deal, should there be a PR ‘problem’ that colours the brand or the marriage. Both Boris and Barclays have a very high profile and rumblings of subvertising of the bike branding have already been noted. The beta operation – signed up subscribers – is also showing some interesting patterns of use, plotted on with the Open Streetmap – very tidal for commuting and flagging the warning in the initial study not to locate the bike sharing at London Rail termini, or suggesting that, if the casual users, don’t provide the redistribution required, some charge may be needed to reflect the costs of this bias in use of the system. This is not to knock branding and advertising, as the Copenhagen bike sharing scheme has, since 1995 funded their operating costs through bike branding to a variety of organisations.

    Amusing to see the naievete of the press “Already 12,000 subscribers for 6,000 bikes” That is relatively poor performance by the standards of a successful sharing scheme 15-20 subscribers per bike, and 15 hires per day is picture of a healthy system, and Lyon hit 25 hires per day during a bus strike. The London scheme should be ramping up to this level if the users respond as predicted. One worry expressed by the bike trade was the apparent ratio of support staff to cycles. Paris has just over 50 bikes per operative, Barcelona 100, London appears to have started with around 30 mechanics trained through the cycle industry scheme, is this behind the reports of niggling mechanical problems?

  • Katie

    I thought the blue of the superhighways was supposed to mimic motorways – normal road signage is green and motorway signage is blue, hence the mirror versions in cycle lanes? Or, you know, Barclays.

  • Ian Raymond

    Christian, surely there’ll be a punch-up between Virgin and Coke as to who ‘gets’ the red bus lanes? (Maybe even Ferrari might want to stake a claim, which could do wonders for the timekeeping of the 73!)

  • Mizter T

    It’s a coincidence – the idea of using blue for the ‘cycle super highways’ has been around for ages – as a previous commenter states its to mimic the blue of motorway signs, and is supposed to suggest these are speedy routes into town. None of the signage on street nor any of the lane signage features Barclays either by name or by logo. The leaflets and of course the website do feature Barclays name and logo, but not in a fairly toned down manner.

    I’m quite sure that what happened was that Barclays were presented with the opportunity to sponsor both the cycle hire scheme and the cycle superhighways as a sort of job lot, though one can imagine the coincidence of the blue lane surfacing used on the cycle superhighways appealing to the marketing bods.

    But I don’t think there’s any real doubt the principle thing that Barclays agreed to sponsor is the cycle hire scheme, with all those bikes with blue Barclays branding popping up all around the centre of town. The sponsorship of the cycle superhighways is a by-product.

  • Mizter T

    @Mizter T:

    An erroneous “not” found its way into a sentence in the first para of my post, which should read:

    “The leaflets and of course the website do feature Barclays name and logo, but in a fairly toned down manner.