Huge demand as workers get on their bikes

Demand for Brompton’s folding bikes has been so high that the company has had to stop taking orders

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson has been a recent advocate of cycling Credit: Geoff Pugh

The UK’s biggest bicycle maker has had to stop taking orders following unprecedented demand from Britons eager to find a new way to get to work.

Brompton boss Will Butler-Adams, a self-confessed “nutter on a soapbox”, says that the Covid-19 crisis has made people “rethink” the benefits of two-wheeled transport.

Mr Butler-Adams said that demand for Brompton’s folding bikes, assembled in a factory in west London, had come from all around the world.

“We’ve stopped taking orders until the end of October,” he said. “We are in a situation that is so exciting but we want to try to develop the foundations for the next 10 years.

“Every penny we are making, we are reinvesting in the business. Historically, we might have been quite cautious to recruit and to invest in technology, to invest in people and accelerate R&D projects. [It] is an unusual level of confidence that allows us to be more gung-ho.”

Mr Butler-Adams noted a step change from Westminster in the role bicycles can play in the UK’s transport network. Whitehall officials now have “the political freedom to implement” long-harboured designs to champion cycling, he added.

Dr Matthew Niblett, a director of think-tank the Independent Transport Commission, said: “The development of options such as e-bikes also can ­provide opportunities for a more ­inclusive active travel environment more favourable to those with mobility impairments.

“However, intelligent policy and regulatory development will be required to ensure that e-bikes and e-scooters do not impact negatively on pedestrians and conventional cycling, or litter the urban landscape with too many competing schemes.”

Cycling leaders yesterday wrote to Boris Johnson urging him to “safeguard the golden age of cycling”. Infrastructure such as cycling lanes is a “postcode lottery” at the moment, the Bike is Best campaign warned.

“Even where local authorities have received all the funding they asked for, delivery of schemes by some councils have been shelved because of local pressure from a vocal minority,” it said.