Could a corporate Boris Bike account offer your firm a ticket to ride?

Businesses in the City of London are calling on Transport for London (TfL) to offer corporate Boris Bike accounts to help promote cycling among employees.

The City of London’s Clean Air project, which works with firms to improve the capital’s air quality, has revealed that many of its clients would like a more flexible system to help staff and customers hire the bikes.

Speaking at an air quality event in London last week, Ruth Calderwood, environment policy officer at CityAir, said she would like TfL to alter its payment system, which currently prevents businesses from having corporate accounts with the scheme, similar to the accounts many hold with taxi firms.

Boris Bikes have been a hit with employees and commuters seeking a flexible low-cost alternative to crowded buses and tube trains, and a number of firms are keen to promote the service. For example, investment firm Nomura is working with TfL to locate a bike stand outside its offices.

"Businesses would like to be able to issue a card, or a token or something to visitors who come to their premises so they can then perhaps take a bike out," said Calderwood. "The bikes are already very popular, but this is another area that could offer a good way forward for TfL."

Meanwhile, Murad Qureshi, chairman of the London Assembly Environment Committee, said he would like Boris Bikes to be accessible through the Oyster smart card system.

"I think the main issue is it has to marry up with Oyster cards," he said. "Oyster is key and TfL should do something like that, but for whatever reason it’s being kept separate."

A spokeswoman for TfL downplayed the prospect of corporate accounts for the scheme, arguing it would be too difficult to integrate the current payment system with corporate accounts as each membership must be linked to a credit card.

However, she admitted that a number of hotels are getting around the problem by loaning access keys to their guests.

"You can have up to four keys on an account, but it’s not like you can just introduce a swipe key for everyone at a corporate rate," she said.

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