12 months on: How are you getting on with the London Cycle Hire scheme?

With news of the scheme expanding east and west, love stories on Boris Bikes and news of how cycle hire schemes saves lives… you can’t help but ask: How are you getting along now, with the cycle hire scheme?

There was plenty of fuss in the beginning about overcharges, cards not working and docking problems. These seem to have drifted away from media attention but recent experience suggests problems are still persisting.

I’d like to hear from everyone’s experiences at the moment – the good and the bad.

Please leave a comment below.

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60 Responses to 12 months on: How are you getting on with the London Cycle Hire scheme?

  1. Mike Waring 05/08/2011 at 9:04 am #

    I’ve given up on the Boris Bikes now that my annual subscription has expired. I didn’t enjoy riding them as they are so heavy and cumbersome and nearly every one has a tight brake which makes pedalling difficult. Recently, too, they have been in short supply at my nearest docking stations.

  2. Ciarán Mooney 05/08/2011 at 9:20 am #

    The bikes themselves were OK, although you had to cherry pick the ones that didn’t have the brakes permanently clamped on. I’m amazed that was ever an issue surely that would have improved over time as they were probably set up, unless their bike mechanics aren’t properly trained?

    Apart from that the only reason I don’t use it now is because they are spectacularly unreliable for casual journeys.

    It seems TfL and Serco have shot themselves in the food. They want casual users to even our the bike distributions, but these customers colloquially have the worst hiring experiences (red lights, refusal to release bikes etc). The regular users are on an annual subscription which apparently means you have 10x less problems, but these will be the commuters causing the tidal flows of bikes to and from stations.

  3. Vicky Noden 05/08/2011 at 9:35 am #

    Love them. Haven’t had a problem with them at all. By far the quickest and cheapest way to get around central London. They may be a bit on the heavy side but I got one up to nearly 19mph. The brakes could be a bit more responsive but otherwise think they’re great.

  4. Chris 05/08/2011 at 9:46 am #

    I think it’s a great idea, and on a subscription basis, when it works it’s great. However often I see tourists baffled by the terminals, if they’re actually working. They don’t understand why they have to put their cards in twice, and it seems to take ages to get a response from them. On one occassion I saw a guy trying to read through the 30-odd pages of terms and conditions.
    If they could make the software more reliable, faster and simpler it would keep everyone happy. Otherwise when it fails it’s a disappointing experience for visitors.

  5. AJ 05/08/2011 at 9:46 am #

    I’ve only ever used them twice cycling from Ludgate Hill to King’s Cross and found them extremely slow. Not sure if all of them are like that or if I was particularly unlucky but I nearly fell asleep en route.

    On a positive note, they are very easy to use.

    Main criticism: Could people please stop calling them ‘Boris Bikes’ as this will cause Boris’ already over-inflated ego to finally burst!

    • Richard 05/08/2011 at 4:49 pm #

      I see no downsides to bursting Boris.

  6. Lindsay 05/08/2011 at 9:52 am #

    I have an annual subscription, and although I have my own bike I find them useful. They seem to make my legs hurt in a way that my normal bike doesn’t, and they’re definitely more hard work to pedal, so I only use them for short journeys.

    I mainly use them to cycle from Pimlico station to my office near Victoria, on the days when I don’t ride my normal bike – at the moment Victoria station is a total mess because of escalator works and it’s much more pleasant and less stressful to use Pimlico and a five minute Boris Bike ride. But the trouble is, lots of other people have had the same idea, and quite often there are no bikes at Pimlico in the morning, and no slots at Pimlico at night. I can’t understand why TfL didn’t anticipate this when they were planning the works at Victoria.

    I do also find the system quite unreliable – the other morning, there were bikes at Pimlico but all with red lights (despite no obvious faults). Same at the next station up. It seemed like the whole system was down. And when they do work, it usually takes almost a minute of flashing amber for it to undock. Plus the information online is rarely up to date.

    Having said that, I think they are generally a Good Thing, and I will be renewing my susbcription. I like that there are now more people in suits and dresses cycling around at a slightly slower pace. I get the impression that drivers are a bit more cautious now as well. And when the system works (like it did this morning), it’s brilliant!

    • Thomas 06/08/2011 at 12:40 am #

      Lindsay,

      Last summer online ‘activity information’ was available minutes after a ride. Now there is no ‘End Date’, ‘Start Location + time’ or ‘End Location + time’ information available.

      This is very disappointing indeed, as this informs you if your ride has ‘ended’ if you don’t get a green light when you dock the bike. I’ve had to call them up twice in the last week because this information wasn’t available.

  7. Mark Thomas 05/08/2011 at 9:54 am #

    Great idea, but they are heavy, cumbersome, and geared too low; and recently, unreliable.

    I have been a subscription user since the sheme started (occasional use only, on the odd occasion when I don’t have my own bike in town) but have recently experienced problems with my access key not working, though the £1 access charge was debited from my account. What should have been a quick 10-minute trip to meet friends took an hour, after trying 3 different docking stations and eventually walking my journey. After a £5.00 call on my mobile to the helpdesk they have promised my key has been ‘re-set’, but I have yet to try it. Frustratingly unreliable!!

  8. Notsoblue 05/08/2011 at 9:57 am #

    I primarily commute on my own bike but on the occasions that I can’t, I use the train + cycle hire. And I love them, very convenient way to get around. Availability can be an issue, but with the Android app I know where the nearest available bikes are. Also, the hire process can be a bit frustrating for a casual member at a busy hire point like Waterloo station. By the time you’ve started a new hire period, and printed out your release number, any bikes you’ve had your eye on will have been snapped up.

    For weekend pootles around the city with friends from out of town though, its brilliant.

  9. Alex 05/08/2011 at 10:12 am #

    I was determined not to be negative about it, but I must say that when I have used a credit card (e.g. before I got an annual membership, or now when hiring a bike for my partner) the majority of times it has been problematic. Issue include:

    cards rejected for no obvious reason

    cycle release code does not print out, then you have to wait for 15 minutes before you can print another one

    cycle release code fails to release bike which then someone with a key is able to remove immediately afterwards

    returned bike to a docking station and a tourist was unable to remove it, when clearly there was no problem with the bike

    The number one priority surely must be to have the system reflect faulty bikes; Notsoblue above mentions the Android app – that’s what I use too – but its only half the story, I’m sure many people have got to a docking station with plenty of bikes, none of which are working, yet the system will say “everything is working just fine!”. How difficult would it be for the system to show make “bikes” mean “bikes available to use” because it surely must know if a bike can be taken or not.

  10. Richard Gray 05/08/2011 at 10:15 am #

    Great! Only use occasionally when not on normal bike. But it’s brilliant for those short trips a couple of miles. Some difficulty with full stations, but no technical issues.

  11. el-gordo 05/08/2011 at 10:15 am #

    Brilliant scheme let down by the docking stations in my opinion. They should seriously look at fixing the various glitches before rolling it out further as that will just keep magnifying the problems.

    Despite being a big supporter I have largely given up on it because I have had so many issues with it.

  12. Alex 05/08/2011 at 10:16 am #

    On a separate note, I do think some extra information could be given to tourists who don’t seem to have taken on board that you have to pay extra once you go over 30 minutes… I frequently see large groups of people hanging around having picnics in Hyde Park with their Barclays bikes laid beside them on the ground.

    And last weekend, my weekend of Barclays bikes frustration, some gentleman’s credit card wouldn’t work so he asked if he could use mine and give me a pound because he seemed to genuinely believe that was all it costs! well you could argue he was on the make, but actually i think he really didn’t understand that there was a lot more to it than that, and I don’t think he’s alone

  13. Jemma Leahy 05/08/2011 at 10:18 am #

    Although I seem to have bad luck with the machines not working on me, I think the scheme is great! My friend uses them everyday to cycle to work (yes, she lives in zone 1 and works in zone 1, lucky for some!). However, the Boris Bikes are merely there for novelty ride on weekends in the city. The fact that they don’t go much further than zone 1 means that it eliminates a whole market of people who might want to use them to commute to work. I hope that Boris expands not only East, but north as well where I live. Otherwise, for novelty value they are brill!

  14. Alex 05/08/2011 at 10:22 am #

    For all my complaints, I do want to see the system succeed and be expanded, but it must be knocked into shape first, that should be the highest priority.

  15. Dave Roberts 05/08/2011 at 10:31 am #

    I’ve enjoyed using the scheme but since May, when Serco stopped having staff at Waterloo station to empty the bays in the evenings, unless I get there by 5.30pm there’s no empty bays in the Waterloo area. Hence I’m hardly using the bikes now which is a shame since a ride from High Street Kenn to Waterloo was a great stress-reliever after a day at the office! Serco tell me that they believe that there are now enough bays at Waterloo, but there simply are not! So my annual subscription expires next week, not sure if I will renew…

  16. walltoall 05/08/2011 at 10:40 am #

    I HAVE renewed my subscription which is a statement as well as a fact. I use BorisBikes on visits to London about once a week (I’m 67) and clock up about six to ten uses a month. Yes I have an issue with the too-tight brake settings. I have no issue with the weight. It’s a great way to keep fit. I can generally beat a taxi in central london and ALWAYS beat a bus. Can’t wait to see them extended beyond Mile-End as I live in the Essex sticks and my first hit is London Hospital.

  17. SoTyred 05/08/2011 at 10:47 am #

    I use the scheme everyday as part of my commute into work from Tower Hill to Lambeth North. I can normally always get a bike in the morning without any problems. Occasionally in the evening there are not any in the docking station at Lambeth North but I can normally get one from a docking station nearby. Only once have I had to give up and get the tube.

    When I first started using the scheme I did have problems with my key not being recognised but that problem seems to have gone away – touch wood.

    Yes the bikes are heavy and take a bit more effort to ride than my road bike, but then I look on that as extra training!

    They have saved me a considerable amount of money as my journey time is less than 30 minutes so I am only paying £45 a year compared to £1,104 for an annual zone 1 season ticket.

    And best of all, I am out in the relatively fresh air rather than being underground on a crowded, hot and sweaty tube train.

  18. Matthew 05/08/2011 at 10:53 am #

    I’m an annual subscriber and use them on the weekend for trips between shops and cafes and during the week to get to meetings in the West End (I work in Shoreditch). I also have my own commuter bike – a nice hybrid Ridgeback – that can be locked up at home and in our building. It’s too good to leave locked up anywhere in London so that’s when the Barclay Bikes come in handy – you can leave them at a docking station and they will be there when you come back. If there are any, that is. I’ve had the usual problems with bikes that refuse to release but as a casual user with their own bike, that doesn’t affect my commute. I do think the gearing is far too low, first gear is useless and you can easily start off in 3rd! A fast trip from Shoreditch to say Pall Mall will really get some calories burned – not least because you have to spin so fast! Could we have a smaller sprocket on the back please?

  19. Sarah 05/08/2011 at 11:27 am #

    I love the Barclays Cycle Scheme, the short journeys I used it for gave me the confidence to use my own bike. I was concerned about general bike parking, but there seems to be a lot more places to leave a non Barclays bike and most companies I visit have some kind of cycle parking which is good.

    Overall, I love the Barclays Bikes, I agree with some of the previous comments and I also became frustrated when at peak times, there were either no available bikes, or broken bikes – they don’t seem to be able to manage the flow…. I think the scheme is very good, but needs refinement to encourage others to use it.

  20. John 05/08/2011 at 11:29 am #

    I commute twice a week from Paddington to Westminster on the scheme and on the whole it’s been very good. Like others I’ve had docking issues, but I’ve only been forced to use the tube a handful of times in 9 months. Serco definitely need to fix system issues before the scheme expand, but I’m going to carry on using it. The tube is just dreadful.

  21. Mark 05/08/2011 at 11:39 am #

    I’ve let my annual subscription lapse, as I wasn’t using the BB’s enough to justify the cost. I ride my own bike into central London quite often, but the BB’s are handy when I don’t want to arrive sweaty or worry about storage/security. Haven’t tried using them on a casual basis yet.
    I echo much of what has been said – I think they’re a good thing for all cyclists, and contribute to getting the critical mass of cyclists on the road that we need.
    Technically, the gearing of the bikes is all wrong, and 20 minutes riding is equivalent to 2 hours on my Brompton. Have had similar issues with rejected keys, difficulties in finding empty docks or working bikes…
    I’ve noticed a big upsurge in use since they were opened up to casual users. Lots of tourists using them, and they are already quite iconic – I’d rather they be called Boris Bikes than Barclays Bikes, personally.
    Great to see tourists riding the bikes on Critical Mass rides and on the Blackfriars Bridge protests – I like the slightly subversive irony of this.
    I’d give them a B+ – room for improvement but glad we have them.

    • walltoall 05/08/2011 at 3:54 pm #

      They ARE BorisBikes Mark, if you say or think so!

      You have an inalienable right to name them thus if you wish.

      Unless you have UKLabour leanings and Boris sticks in your craw.

      Me I’m happy to name them after the Eton Woolhead.

      Peace

  22. Shaumik 05/08/2011 at 11:49 am #

    Since I moved to zone 3 from zone 1 I just don’t use the bikes! I work in Camberwell so While there have been a few occasions where I wanted to use them they hadn’t made it so far south! They should definitely expand them at least so there are rations along the cycle superhighways.

  23. SoTyred 05/08/2011 at 11:58 am #

    You might also find this interesting if you haven’t already seen it:

    http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/public-bike-sharing-schemes-save-lives/011647

    Public bike sharing schemes save lives

    Research finds that such schemes civilise cities, with motorists more aware of cyclists (motoring is riskier to health)…

  24. Joe 05/08/2011 at 12:16 pm #

    The bikes aren’t bad. And the idea is great. But I seem to be cursed by docking stations. About half of the times (5 or 6?) I’ve tried to return home after 9pm, the machines have given up working, refusing to accept my card, or just stuck on ‘processing your request’ after someone else has tried. Obviously a key would bypass this, but I don’t use them enough. Ergo the PAYG system needs improving…think Boris shouldn’t be allowed his own cycle, just the cycle hire. Might improve rapidly then!

    • Thomas 05/08/2011 at 11:13 pm #

      Hi Joe,

      I’m a member of the scheme, I have a key and I’m charged after the 24 hour access period. If I don’t exceed the 30 ‘free minutes’ on any ride I just pay the £1 access fee for that 24 hour period.

      There’s no need to get annual membership to have the convenience of a ‘key’.

      £3 one time fee for the key, membership with 24-hour access.

      http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/15155.aspx

      I have my own bike but I love the BB, they’re great for short trips around central London and as mentioned you don’t have to worry about your bike being pinched!

  25. Nathan 05/08/2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Have absolutely given up on them; I’ve had such terrible experiences with the system. Sort of springs a bit of hatred from my mouth when they’re mentioned these days, actually.

  26. Simon Wilcox 05/08/2011 at 12:39 pm #

    I used to use them pretty much every day from Shoreditch High Street to Clerkenwell until we moved offices to Liverpool Street. Now I tend to come in to London Bridge and there is no convenient docking station near the station.

    I haven’t used them much since but I’ve noticed that not one of my rides has shown up in my account since the end of 2010. Anyone else missing records ?

    I always test the bike by lifting the back wheel and spinning it before I try and undock it and there are a lot with locked on brakes.

    I haven’t renewed my annual subscription and I’m not sure if I will but I will probably switch to a daily plan for a while as they are handy for getting around on short errands during the day.

    • walltoall 05/08/2011 at 4:01 pm #

      Simon, I do hope you see your way to renew your sub and use the the Boris Bikes. My key costs £45 a year and I probably have not made 50 separate uses last year.I am entirely a leisure user and a 29minute user to boot, lol

      Separately, but apropos nevertheless, today I note that if I want to buy a year’s parking in Havering the pass will cost me £36. I know which of the two gives me better value! Peace.

      • Simon Wilcox 05/08/2011 at 4:08 pm #

        As I said, I’ll probably switch to a daily plan so that I only pay on the days I use it. If that’s less than 45 times a year then I’m better off for no extra effort on my part.

        That said, it will present Serco with many more opportunites to screw up the transaction so perhaps it would be better to just let them have the one payment a year !

        S.

  27. Adam Bowie 05/08/2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Well my annual subscription expires in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be renewing. I have a Brompton, but if I’m out in the evening, I won’t bring it in, and Boris Bikes are a perfectly adequate replacement. They’re also nicer to use at weekends when you’re out and about.

    For the most part, my experience has been pretty good. There’s a set of docks right outside work in zone 1, although if you arrive much after about 8.45am, you’ll be doing well to dock your bike. And if you leave much after 5.30pm, you probably won’t get one. TfL/Serco’s shifting of the bikes seems pretty random in this part of the West End. Sometimes bikes are cleared or dropped off. Other times they aren’t.

    During peak times, the system feels painfully slow, and it’s as though the infrastructure isn’t up to the demand. Oyster barriers don’t slow down during peak times, but you can be waiting sixty seconds for a bike to unlock. Are the docking stations connected by dial-up modem or something?

    And the credit-card experience is not a good one. A friend travelled across town with me the other day. He topped up his key online at his desk. But apparently it takes more than five minutes before it goes through the system. He resorted to credit card access and for no good reason it took him two cards and three attempts to unlock a bike. At the first docking station where there was a single bike, someone with a key swiped the bike while he struggled to pay for one!

    Integration with Oyster Cards would be the obvious thing, but that’s probably quite expensive. This system was effectively bought “off the shelf”, so I imagine we’re years away.

    My advice would be to take a good like at the technological infrastructure.

  28. Andy 05/08/2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Experience so far limited to watching other people on them.

    Will only give one a try when tfl decide that the £2 grand+ i have already given them for the joys of transport in london this year also covers me to use one of their bikes.

  29. David 05/08/2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Love them, but you can’t rely on them (must always have a backup plan if you really need to be somewhere for a specific time).

  30. Ingrid 05/08/2011 at 1:47 pm #

    When it works, it’s brilliant and such a fun way to go around in the city (despite the monsters these bikes are). Definitely the future.

    Unfortunately, there are too many problems with bikes unreleasable, key fobs not working, docking stations full… Don’t get me started with trying to book the bikes with a credit card at the terminal. I have done it 3 times now, and it is still a complete mystery to me. I can only imagine how much trouble non english speaking tourists have to make sense of it.
    The company who came up with the system must be crawling on the floor with shame…

  31. Arthur 05/08/2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I was enthusiastic and tried to use the scheme as a casual user, but soon realised that the technology was infuriatingly unreliable. After I got stranded miles away from my destination, unable to release any bikes due to a complete failure of the docking computer system, I gave up. And I was charged for this displeasure.

  32. R 05/08/2011 at 3:24 pm #

    The schemes a great idea.

    Its just a shame that the terminals are so cumbersome and time consuming to use.

    Sometimes it takes 15 mins to get a bike.

    Then the 1-2-3 buttons on the bike clamps themselves look like they’ve been made from the scraps of peoples old shoes. You type in the password and nothing happens.

    Surely they could make better buttons and more simple machines

    Well if you havea a key you dont have to worry about all this. BUt for those of us who use it just once or twice a months its not wirth buying a key.

    • Simon Wilcox 05/08/2011 at 3:35 pm #

      “Well if you have a a key you dont have to worry about all this. BUt for those of us who use it just once or twice a months its not worth buying a key.”

      I’ve just checked and the access & usage fees are the same for both membership & casual use. The key costs £3. Surely it’s worth it if you do even a couple of journeys each month ?

      I can see the casual use scheme being handy for those who come to London for a couple of weeks holiday and don’t want to arrange keys in advance but for anyone who routinely uses the bikes, I would have thought getting a key is a small price to pay for the saving in time and aggravation !

  33. Richard 05/08/2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Given up on it and won’t be renewing my annual subs. Like the scheme, like the bikes, like riding them. Can never get one when I want one though, whether it’s peak hours, late evening or weekends; the re-distribution efforts seem either chronically inept (leaving stations either full or empty) or completely inadequate. A usefully stocked rack is almost always a guarantee of a system crash. There are still massive empty gaps between stations, even in central London (there are about 2 between TCR and Embankment, for example), and while they are increasing the number of stations, the plans to expand the coverage zones risk distracting them from these efforts.

    The system might be barely usable if they had a decent, reliable API for third-party (mobile) apps to help find bikes, but either these are still all working from scrapers, or the API is as unreliable as the rest of the scheme.

    Further, they remain notoriously unresponsive to feedback; I don’t know if their call centres have yet become useable or effective, but their twitter feed, for example, is purely for the output of propaganda and they clearly never read replies.

    Ultimately, for me, if the system’s not reliable, it’s not usable. Given that I know the tube won’t be “out of trains” (well, almost never), I’ll always give the reliable option my custom. If, say, I could get a bike 70% of the time, I would at least try for it, but realistically it’s nearer 10%, and not worth the diversion.

  34. Tim 05/08/2011 at 5:00 pm #

    I bought an annual subscription for £45 last year and have used the Boris Bikes maybe 20 times for short journeys across Zone one whilst my proper bike is parked up. I guess therefore about £2.00 a journey but still worth it to my mind for the convenience. All the bikes I have used have been ok and although heavy comfy to ride on a short journey and able to carry bags etc in the front slot. I will be subscribing again on an annual basis even though my usage will probably be at about the same level. I just like to be able to pop in my key and take a bike whenever I need one.

  35. Andrew 06/08/2011 at 12:10 am #

    Echoing El Gordo – the bikes are great, robust and reliable (though a higher gear would be nice; my SCR grade is suffering). Aiming for the nearest inconsiderate driver and giving a battle cry of “Ramming speed!” would not seem out of place if you’re astride one of those bad boys.

    However, the docking stations are a joke.
    1) If a station is nearly full or empty, it’s hard to tell from a distance if there is a free dock, or alternatively if that last cycle has a red light on (it probably does but you have to walk over to check anyway). A couple of lights at the top of the station tower to indicate at a distance if there’s free spaces / available bikes would be good. However, for that to work, you need to fix the other problems:
    2) Station space/bike availability numbers are wrong, both on the web/phone apps, and at the stations in person. At peak times these numbers are utter, utter fiction, and not much better other times. It’s very rare, but I’ve actually been to stations which have bikes in every rack and yet the touch screen believes it has spaces (‘Docking station full’ button is greyed out). And if you do get one which knows it’s full, asking it if there’s any slots at nearby stations is pointless except to extend your free period; the numbers are completely wrong (and when you do get to the next station which you were told had free slots but turns out to be full, it’ll tell you that the one you just came from is half empty when you were there 2 minutes ago and it was most definitely not). The same problem applies when you’re looking for a bike and there’s none nearby; all the adjacent stations are empty but the touch screens will tell you otherwise.
    3) The actual docking points are a law onto themselves too. Sometimes when you dock the bike, it glows amber, then gives you a red light rather than green. But you can’t undock the bike. There’s no published information on what to do in that situation. The helpline (who don’t think of themselves as customer services for some reason) claim that in that situation you need to keep pushing the bike into the dock until you get a green light; I’ve spent several minutes trying that to no avail, with increasing amounts of violence being dealt to try to reseat the bike in the dock. Now I don’t worry about it – I never seem to get charged anyway.
    4) Trying to collect a bike via a key – at times, the dock can take over a minute of blinking amber to release. If it does release that is; the other day I went to collect a bike – the station was full with no red lights – but every single bike blinked amber for a few seconds, then showed red. Sometimes only some bikes on the station do this, while others will unlock. You often see a succession of people thinking they’ve lucked out with the last free bike, only to discover that no, it’s been left for a reason. Why do I have to put a key in to get the red light? If the bike can’t unlock, show me the red light upfront. It’s the equivalent of gluing a pound coin to the pavement otherwise.

    Clearly the technology platform was built by an intern on summer holiday. If Serco are subject to the same fictional availability numbers that we are, it’s a miracle they manage the logistics of filling/emptying stations as well as they do.

    When it does all come together and you can both get a bike and drop it off, it’s sheer bliss. Nothing beats being cruising down a London back-street on a sunny afternoon.

    Erm, that’s it really. My goodness that was cathartic. Go on, start an article about Shimano vs. Campag next.

  36. Pete Clark 06/08/2011 at 1:39 am #

    Sometimes I cycle the 21 miles into the London office, otherwise I use the Boris Bikes to get from Waterloo or Vauxhall to Westminster. They’re neither elegant nor fast but when I find one that’s where I want it to be I’d rather a short ride than a bus or walk. And there’s the thing, they’re great for that short journey in the centre and if you want more bring your own bike.

    My sole gripe is that the bikes are never in the right place at the right time for a commuter.

    • Angela 06/08/2011 at 8:02 pm #

      I’ve still not managed to ride one. Last week St Mary Axe dock was full of bikes but terminal wasn’t working (I guess that’s why it was full) then when I wanted to come back from Southwark the dock by the tube stations was empty. Frustrating.

  37. Kisha 06/08/2011 at 5:59 am #

    Have only used twice, should use more. Good experience both times.

  38. Rick Sutton 06/08/2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Not very well maintained, often low tire pressures and I suppose you have to expect they get knocked about quite a lot. Useful though, and I have used them for short hops around town

  39. Bike Hire Brisbane 11/08/2011 at 2:48 am #

    I do hope this scheme is working in London and getting people on there bikes for a more active lifestyle. We have a similar scheme in our city however it is failing miserably because of helmet laws and high costs.

    • Thomas 11/08/2011 at 11:45 am #

      “Barclays will continue their sponsorship for an extra three years into 2018 and provide a further £25 million” I guess that could mean it’s working.

      I’ve been to the Brisbane site and $11 for 24 hour access is indeed steep compared to London. Today’s rate at the post office is Australian $11 = £7.21.

      The advantage of the London pricing is that you can use a bike for a single journey in a 24 hour period and still pay less than the cost of a bus journey (£1.30).

      Moving Towards Smarter Travel?
      http://www.sustrans.org.uk/assets/files/rmu/Sustrans_LTP_FINAL_REPORT_Aug2011_FINAL2.pdf

    • Thomas 11/08/2011 at 12:53 pm #

      I started using the BCH scheme last summer, it’s been brilliant.

      I’m a casual user, I’ve ridden the bikes to the shops, museums, sights, parks and used them to exercise round Regent’s Park in the early hours and on weekends.

      I’ve had no problems beyond not getting a ‘green light’ when I’ve docked the bike after a ride.

      I bought my own bike this summer so I’ve only used the hire bikes on a couple of occasions.

      This brings me to the ‘helmet issue’.

      Because, I’m riding on a daily basis now I thought it was time to invest in a helmet.
      I’ve got a big head so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task.

      I quickly found that bike shops don’t tend to stock xlarge helmets, so I had to look online. This of course means ordering a helmet, trying it for size and fit and sending it back if it’s not right and ordering another one.

      After searching for two months I finally settled on the one that arrived yesterday, it’s by far the best of the bunch.

      My ‘hat size’ is 63 cm and this helmet fits like a glove and looks great compared to ‘traditional’ style cycle helmets. It was also the best priced, £22.49 from £24.99. Meets CE EN1078 and ASTM 1492 skate certification.

      Bell: Faction – Large – Brown/Gold
      http://www.bellsports.com/cycling/helmets/pavement/faction

  40. bike shop croydon 11/08/2011 at 10:29 am #

    im going to try and use the scheme more i have only used it a few times

  41. Paul 13/08/2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Very handy for a short trip, I only really use mine for journeys under half an hour which is free, aside from my yearly subscription.

    Early on I found that more often than not, when entering my key I would get a red light. Then I would get red lights on every other bike I tried. Called them up and was told you have to wait “up to five minutes before trying another bike, so the system can reset itself”. At which I was less than impressed.

    But it seems to happen much less now. I’ve often found there are no bikes at a station but I feel it’s worth it for £40 a year and many short rides getting me to where I want to go.

  42. Ride On 15/08/2011 at 4:00 am #

    Melbourne’s public bikes are the vehicle of choice for Cadel Evans in the annual Suit up and ride charity event for youth health: http://www.suitupandride.com.au/the-event/past-events/videos.aspx

  43. Thomas 17/08/2011 at 11:27 pm #

    The idea is great – the implementation is pathetic. I use the cycle scheme quite often (about 1x week during the summer) and nearly 1/3 of times my key does not work (and neither does my credit card at portal). It’s so bad that in the mornings I can’t rely on the cycle scheme to get to work even though I have a docking station in front of my flat. Very disappointing that after 1 year major technical issues have not been fixed.

    On the upside, I once rented a bike for a longer duration and should have been charged £35, but nothing was ever deducted from my account. Whoever is running this thing is doing a pretty poor job.

    • Helen Lianos 08/10/2011 at 10:33 am #

      Watch out, you may find that they do finally charge you the £35 — for some reason they charge the initial £1 immediately but save any “overtime” charges for later. At least that’s been my experience!

      • Thomas 22/10/2011 at 12:27 pm #

        Indeed, about 3-4 weeks later they did charge me £35…

  44. Jean 06/09/2011 at 7:46 am #

    I ride them to work every day. A short 15 min cycle. Once you know which commuting stations to use its easy. And then I can bus home or hang out with friends easily after work. Has worked for me for 4 months now…

  45. jobot 09/09/2011 at 10:31 am #

    Although the idea is fantastic and after having lived in Berlin for over two years where DB have long since been offering cycle hiring schemes (that worked!), I tried to hire our dear Boris bikes on 6 separate occasions with my BARCLAYS (!!) debit card and not once was I successful! Not only that, I was charged the £2 fee AND expensive mobile phone call charges in an attempt to give my feedback and help the system out. Needless to say, any scheme that encourages cycling will always have my personal backing but it is absolutely essential that something be done about the docking systems machines for casual users. I can only imagine what the Germans would say if they were unable to access their beloved DB bikes – but there again, as Andreas himself says, the Germans have got a lot to teach us Brits by way of cycle respect!

  46. Helen Lianos 08/10/2011 at 10:31 am #

    Hi there,
    I’ve been wanting for a while to find a way to give feedback about the scheme (other than moaning to people at their call centre): I live in hope that if someone at LCC will know how to pass my comments on to the cycle hire scheme so that they are taken seriously.

    I love the scheme and think it is great. But there are some issues that are problematic:

    1. The bells are really useless. You have to sort of swipe sideways at the edge really vigorously to get any noise out of them, trying a few times to get the knack. When it’s an emergency & you need to warn someone, it’s too late. This is dangerous in my view.
    2. I have a fob: I can’t tell you how many times it is unreliable. Try bike after bike and they all go red, wasting several minutes each time before giving up and going on public transport. Not good enough. I was told last time this happened by the call centre that at rush hour the system “gets clogged up”. Needs sorting!
    3. The online statements explaining your charges are badly presented: too complicated, hard to read, I am never really sure whether I have been charged correctly or not, because it’s really hard to reconcile the charges that hit my credit card with what shows on the screen.
    4. They should publish the normal number along with the 0845 number on all signage / website / leaflets. The vast majority of callers will be using mobiles, on which 0845 numbers cost a fortune.
    5. The maps showing where the nearest bikes are are very useful — but if you are at a station on the fringes or where there aren’t very many nearby bikes, they don’t show the nearest ones — can the larger area maps show where the further ones are, as well?
    6. Can tube station maps and bus stop maps show the bike locations as well?
    7. I would like to have more than one fob, but NOT connected to each other (see point 8): one for me, one for my teenaged daughter, one to have for guests/visitors. This is not possible without having three separate credit cards and email addresses, which seems ridiculous: I’m happy to be responsible for the costs of all 3 fobs, why can’t I have one account with three different fobs?
    8. I do realise that I can have up to four fobs on one account, but that they would all be charged as soon as one is activated, which seems most odd: who one earth always cycles in unison with several other people? I can’t believe this odd arrangement suits many users.

    I would greatly appreciate these points being passed on to the people responsible for managing the relevant aspect of the scheme.

    Regards,
    Helen Lianos

  47. Helen Lianos 08/10/2011 at 10:36 am #

    Another thought: if there’s something wrong with a bike, you’re supposed to hit the red button to report it — but there’s no way to say what’s wrong. So if it’s something really minor, the bike is out of commission and presumably the person who comes to repair it has to try to figure out why. I suggest they have a funtion on the computer kiosk at each station that lets you input the number of the bike and describe the problem with it?

  48. Ed 22/10/2011 at 11:53 am #

    Not being a londoner myself I hadn’t really followed this bike hire build up very much but I was pleasantly suprised on a recent trip to the capital.

    Using only short trips in a 24 hour period I only paid a singular pound and got more than my money’s worth.

    On the downside I thought it was quite difficult for a tourist to find out if there was a dock near his destination. Each stand shows the nearby stations but really not closer to half an hour away. I found myself taking a little gamble sometimes and hoping for a station.

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