Barclays Cycle Hire

Barclays cycle hire logo The long awaited London cycle hire scheme is making progress every day. Whether that be new bollards springing up in the ground where the cycle hire bikes will be placed or announcements such as the name of the scheme. In fact this is one of the announcement’s I was most eagerly awaiting.

After all there are some pretty creative names out there:

  • “VeloV” in Lyon
  • “Velib” in Paris
  • “Bixi” in Montreal.

So surely in London, will all our creative minds, we will be able to come up with something cool and edgy. What will the London Cycle Hire Scheme be called?

“Barclays Cycle Hire”

Now, I realise London is strapped for cash, much like the rest of the UK, but I’m not going to feel very hip riding around on a Barclays Cycle Hire Bike along a Barclays Superhighway. So why is there not some kind of 4-6 letter word we could use for our cycle hire scheme?

Something along the lines of VELOndon, VeloDN, Bacycl or CycLon. Except less rubbish!

The £25 million Barclays paid will give them branding on the bicycles, maintenance support vehicles and on the uniforms of maintenance staff. As well as on all marketing and communications.

Future expansion of the Barclays Cycle Hire and roadshows

The good news from the sponsorship is that the scheme may potentially be able to expand more rapidly to areas such as Canary Wharf and outer London. This is according to LCC’s announcement.

Along with the announcement TfL also revealed that there will be 45 roadshows for people to checkout the new Barclays Cycle Hire bikes and docking stations. The roadshows will give Londoners all the information they need to use the cycle hire scheme when it launches. You can see a list of the roadshows.

Another press image blooper

Barclays cycle hire scheme showing the branding

We were also treated to a new “artists impression”. These have gained a bit of a reputation for hilarity. The cyclist who is “undocking” from the stand is wearing a helmet. He must be one of the few people in the world who own a bicycle helmet but not a bike. I certainly won’t be expecting many people wearing helmets when the scheme launches on the 30th of July.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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48 Responses to Barclays Cycle Hire

  1. Mike 28/05/2010 at 1:34 pm #

    My god. Now we know why the “super” highways are blue…

  2. ktcita 28/05/2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I vote for CycLon although hopefully they won’t rise up and fight against us like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica

  3. Abi 28/05/2010 at 1:43 pm #

    I like “CycLon” (even “Barclay’s CycLon”).

    From a distance that logo looks as though it’s marking a cash point at a tube station…

  4. MarkA 28/05/2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Even Barclay Bikes are less of a mouthful than ‘Barclays Cycle Hire Bicycle’ or whatever. I suspect it’s all been a bit rushed at City Hall to have time to put much thought into it though…

    Still, at least with some private backing we can fend off all the moaners about how much the scheme is costing the public purse I suppose.

  5. botogol 28/05/2010 at 2:37 pm #

    £25m over 5 years????
    that’s enough to buy 100,000 £250 bikes, or 20,000 bikes a year.
    how much does this scheme cost? Is it not a complete waste of money?

  6. botogol 28/05/2010 at 3:00 pm #

    wow, so googling around
    – there are about 400 bike parks with 15-30 bikes in each. let’s say 10,000 bikes
    – the scheme costs £70m to set up. Over 6 years to the total cost is £140m

    This means that it will cost a total of £14000 per bike, over 6yrs, or £2000 per bike per year.


    • mr maths 30/07/2010 at 2:28 pm #

      Are they crushing all of the bicycles and rental stations after 6 years? Damn, what a ridiculous waste of money… Oh wait, hang on thats a load of crap. Surely its going to last 30-50 years, just like lots of other privately-backed public services out there. We still have thatcher-era locomotives on the railways that have not been sent abroad yet! HURRAY FOR LONGEVITY AND FORESIGHT

    • Remster 25/08/2010 at 9:21 pm #

      It’s saving our planet

  7. Andreas 28/05/2010 at 4:34 pm #

    Couple of new suggestions..
    VELOndon, VeloDN

    • Remster 25/08/2010 at 9:19 pm #

      No because that is French

  8. Jim 28/05/2010 at 5:23 pm #

    I can see ‘Boris Bikes’ catching on, which would be a bit unfair on Ken Livingstone, seeing as it was his idea in the first place.

    • Andreas 28/05/2010 at 5:35 pm #

      I really like Boris Bikes, that’s a good idea! True about the Ken Livingstone idea stealing 😉

  9. Tim 29/05/2010 at 7:43 am #


  10. neil 31/05/2010 at 9:26 am #

    I’ve been lucky enough to travel to two of the other mention ‘free bike’ cities, I was looking forward to this but with ‘Barclays’ all over the bikes I’ll not be using the system,

    I’m not paying to advertise a bank none of the other cities have need of such overdone branding nor the single sponsor idea, the idea in Paris is a peoples bike, charges are lower and better the idea of ‘damage fines’ is also a but to subjective.

    most of the world is ‘strapped for cash’ Paris is near bankrupt but still managed to pay for the whole set up and with out the huge charges for loss or damage.

    I would love for this to work, but unless there is a more open approach it will sadly fail.

    • Pat 31/05/2010 at 9:19 pm #

      Neil – The ‘people’s bike’ scheme in Paris is funded by JC Decaux, who in return have the right to cover the city with billboards at no cost. I certainly think a few logos on the bikes is much more preferable than endless additional street clutter.

      Furthermore, because of all the issues with stolen bikes in Paris, the city has had to bail the whole scheme out anyway!

      I’m certainly not pretending the London scheme is good value for money (£140m for 6,000 bikes is ludicrous), but is pretty comparable to other schemes given the bikes and docking stations are at least two generations ahead of the bikes used in Paris.

      Anyway, once its up and running how sad would you have to be to ever refer to the scheme as ‘Barclays Cycle Hire’ anyway?!

      • Nicola Jones 02/06/2010 at 10:25 am #

        How about Barcycle? A sort of poshman’s accent bike but paying homage to Barclays. Or the BB, pronounced BeeBee for Barclays Bike.

  11. John C 07/06/2010 at 12:22 pm #

    As banks aren’t everyone’s favourite business at the moment I wonder if the Barclay bikes will be the subject of some unwanted vandalism??

    By the way, in Nice (France) they introduced a cycle hire scheme last year …it’s called ‘velo bleu’. Yep, the bikes are all blue, they even have blue metal shopping baskets on the front.

    I’ve dug out a holiday snap of the bikes and published them on biketastic


    • Dave Holladay 10/06/2010 at 12:26 am #

      Velo Bleu is the Veolia product – related to OYBike which was launched in London in 2004. The scale of operation in Nice makes its reception and use better than that achieved in London. Veolia still operates in the UK in Reading Farnborough and Cardiff. Veolia is a massive public transport operation over almost every mode and includes a comprehensive door to door offering down to car sharing and bike sharing with ITSO smart cards (a bit like Oyster)

  12. Gordon Fuller 08/06/2010 at 12:00 pm #

    They are free for the first 30 mins and most journeys are less than 30 mins – Let’s be honest within a couple of week everyone will be calling them “free bikes” anyway so it doesn’t really matter what branding is on them

  13. BikerTurned Motorist 09/06/2010 at 2:36 pm #

    £50 a day bike rental is extortionate. Why would I rent a bike for £50/day when I can rent a car for £10/day thank you very much.

    • Dave Holladay 10/06/2010 at 12:20 am #

      The high charges for all day use reflect the fact that this is a bike sharing scheme and NOT a bike hire scheme. The NS OV-Fiets rate of collecting a bike to use for the trip to work from the station is more realistic at €2.85 per day for subscribers. The London Bicycle Company (Gabriels Wharf) was indicating a typical cost of between £2 and £3 per day for a leased (and fully serviced) bike such as one might have for a company pool bike fleet (revenue cost, business expense, tax reclaimable). Some bike sharing schemes – with their charges applied remotely – can be operated with mobile phone-style tariffs so you can have either pay by the hour/PAYG, monthly unlimited use, or a day rate for a pre-registered day-rate user. The Bixi system could I think be offered with a range of tariffs if this was considered appropriate.

      Car sharing schemes (Streetcar/City Car Club) have a similar tariff structure to stop people hogging a car all day, and often offer a car hire deal. I’m amazed that you can hire a decent car in London for £10 per day. Car clubs generally charge under £5 per hour including fuel for local use and a basic small car. £20 per day is generally the provincial rate for a Group 0 or Group A car.

  14. james 09/06/2010 at 9:33 pm #

    where can I buy a boris bike of my own? I love their design!

  15. Dave Holladay 10/06/2010 at 12:04 am #

    The concept of branding the bikes is not new – in 1995 CIOS launched the City Bike in Copenhagen a basic low maintenance bike with 1 gear and a coaster brake and foam filled tyres. The first tranche of bikes were branded by Coca-Cola but they did not have an exclusive deal, The basic design of the bikes and the fact that they had few parts which were standard with the general bike fleet means that 15 years later many of the original bikes are still rolling around, having been stripped down and rebuilt each winter and rebranded for a variaty of advertisers over the years.

    The foundation which runs the Copenhagen scheme generally manages to cover their running costs from the sale of bike branding (the tariff is posted on the CIOS/City Bikes website for all or part of the fleet for the year). This of course is a good way on having more than one string to your bow. Maintenance of the bikes was – last I knew, carried out by a skills retraining scheme – which had a reported 80% success rate in getting the participants back into the working population (one of the key features of youth bike schemes here – delivering a means to provide work references and skills to get a permanent job).

    Other bike schemes have also benefitted from branding sales – 1000 of the Decaux bike fleet in Lyon were branded by HSBC (another bank – perhaps the first to brand a bike share scheme) and the Veolia OYBikes which were operating in Outer London between 2004 and 2009 – but have now been withdrawn – carried sponsored panels.

    The Belgian Bike Leasing scheme puts 500 folding bikes out with the bus operator’s livery – and these are marketed to bus users as an extension of their bus journey in a single purchase package, with the bus operator (a 50% stakeholder) thus capturing the potential ‘income’ from selling the total door to door journey. German Railways do likewise (100% ownership of Call-a Bike which started up in 2001) as do Netherlands Railways (100% of OV-Fiets bike hire for commuters). In the UK only Stagecoach has begun to lead the way with their branded Bromptons soon to be available from places other than Waterloo (Lower Road)

    The big issue in around 3 years time will be whether to do a railway-style strip-down and remanufacture job on the bikes, or dispose of them in an appropriate way – simply selling them off secondhand in London could create a major problem in managing theft of the active fleet. Suggestions anyone?

  16. Filippo Negroni 24/06/2010 at 11:30 am #

    I think the cycle hire scheme is an exciting opportunity to see London from a different point of view, something known as ‘bike speed’.

    Yesterday I tried out a potential commute between Waterloo station and Moorgate between 8am and 8.30am. Then again between Moorgate and Paddington via Oxford St. and Marble Arch between 10 and 11.

    I was thrilled by the experience.

    Traffic was generally accomodating, I can see bendy buses being an issue for their length, but they can generally be approached safely.
    I have also been left hooked by a taxi dropping someone off, and the event made some turists wonder if I would make it out alive.
    But the sheer lack of wind, the flatness of the roads, and the general good quality of the surface, combined with mostly wide lanes, made my journey a pleasure.
    Riding a 16 inch folder made the experience even more thrilling.

    I am still smiling from ear to ear from being able, with my tiny 16″ folding bike, to overtake pretty much everything and everyone on my way through the centre at peak time.

    It also cuts down on transport cost and time: faster than the tube on most short journeys, cheaper than a bus ride.

    And what a buzz is being able to cut through sections of stationary traffic and generally feeling “free” in a town that sometimes can feel rather cramped.

    I am very excited at the opportunity to visit London in this new way: Marble Arch will never look the same to you again!

    A very motivating video from the Mayor Boris Johnson:

  17. Jon 30/06/2010 at 1:20 pm #


    have you seen this Barclays animation on cycling tips ?

    the most shocking part is 1:45 in

    A frighteningly realistic example of a car “over-taking” a cyclist
    1) cyclist too close to curb
    2) car driver appears to not even notice the cyclist.
    3) the blue line that appears provides a clear example of why you should not cycle within a bike lane. All drivers assume that is your space and use the rest of the lane for themselves rather than pulling out to give enough space for cycle wobble.

    • Andreas 30/06/2010 at 7:49 pm #

      Jon you are right about the animation. The cyclist is far too close to the curve and the car dangerously overtakes! Guess it shows bit of a lack of double checking that video doesn’t it?

  18. Rob F 24/07/2010 at 5:42 pm #

    I agree the name is awful, not a patch on Perpignan’s Bip!

  19. Tim 29/07/2010 at 11:25 am #

    how about ig gets renamed Barcycle? and it it fails miserable, which i sincerly hope it doesn’t, Farcycle!

  20. Rob C 30/07/2010 at 12:08 am #

    why don’t we just refer to them by their acronym, but say it instead of pronouncing the letters. As in, ‘I’m just going to grab a BCH and ride the BCH all the way home. Then I’ll dock the BCH.’

    Should this post be flagged as inappropriate? I am going to use the term and hope it catches on. Whoever thought of Barclay’s Cycle Hire as a viable name really should have put more thought into what they were doing… it’s all too easy.

  21. luis 30/07/2010 at 11:00 am #

    hi, I am in Lyon for the summer and I have been using the bikes quite a far as I know there are not sponsors in the bikes.
    here the scheme is in place since 2004, if I am not wrong, and the cost if you use it casually is for example €2 per 1.5 hours, it is even cheaper if you have the monthly or long term pass.
    in london, if i am not mistaken, it will be the equivalent to over €6 per 1.5 hours, that is very very expensive.
    perhaps in paris it is not working well, but london should look at other cities like lyon where it does work quite well and make it more affordable and accesible for everyone.

    by the way in lyon the bikes have locks so you can stop in a shop or anywhere anytime, not like london where there will be no locks provided, big mistake.

  22. lo-rider 30/07/2010 at 2:29 pm #

    i want a lon ride bike. gimme

  23. Calan 01/08/2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Why are you people so negative? What’s the matter with you. The scheme aims to get people cycling to work, encouraging both exercise and a healthier, cleaner environment.

    On the one hand you complain about the cost and on the other you complain about the Barclays logo. So given the advertising offsets part of the cost, it’s a no-win. You’ll just moan about anything.

    Hire a car? What, for the sake of a 30min ride to work and back? Or for the trip to the cinema or pub? Good luck with that. By the time you’ve filled out the paperwork, got the car, negotiated London traffic, paid for parking and arrived at your destination, I’ll have finished my morning workload and be eating my lunch.

    Support the scheme and contribute, it’s a lot better than spreading your negativity and dire life outlook.

  24. Lev 02/08/2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Yes! We need a name! “Barclays Cycle Hire scheme” is unpronounceable and tongue twisted combination.

    But they payed £25m for the Boris-bike-revolutioner dream (and many others’ dream of course)

    So lets suppose

    “Bo” for Boris he deserves it (sorry to Ken Livingstone his great idea but not titanic efforts…)
    “B” for Barclays – one letter is fair enough for £25m
    “By” for Bycicle or “Bi” for Bike of course
    so we have Bobby or Bobbi and looks like bobby 🙂

    There is a connotation but old enough to give a new sence to this word in London.

  25. Barney 06/08/2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I’m just calling them ‘bixi’ – its the name they already have for the almost identical system in Montreal, and it sounds a bit like a diminutive form of bike.

  26. Rhiannon Adam 08/08/2010 at 6:06 pm #

    What I find amazing is that it costs £1 in “access” for 24 hours, before you even pay for the bike hire itself.

    So even if I only hire a bike for hour stints at a time to get from say Hoxton to Soho and back- 2 journeys. This adds up to £1 access + £1 to get to soho +£1 return.

    That’s £3 total.

    a bus return would have cost £2.40

    Does that not seem ludicrous?

    Also if you are late there is a £50 late fee- what if you are 5 minutes late- should the penalties be so hire that you would be afraid to take a bike out in the first place?

    I own my own bike, and thought this was a great initiative, as it works so well in Barcelona and Paris, but with these charges, it’s cheaper to buy a Decathalon bike and risk it getting stolen every so often, than risking extortionate late fees (even more expensive ticket penalties through not having a ticket at all on the tube/bus!). If you are late, you did at least pay at the start!

    If you want to ride regularly, riding a TFL bike is more expensive than going out and buying your own to get to and from work- shouldn’t it be an extension of our regular transport system and work as an alternative to the tube/bus for the daily commute? With prices like these, you might as well use the tube- it’s not exactly encouraging the self propelled transport method and not helping to cut emissions!

    My two pence worth…

  27. PatrickD 08/08/2010 at 7:04 pm #

    I think there are a few misunderstandings amongst the complainers.

    Firstly, all possible trips between current bike stations can be completed by the average cyclists in under 30mins. Hence I’d you only complete straight ‘A to B’ trips you never need to pay a hire charge (only access fee). Secondly the late fee only kicks in after 24 hours, so a normal user wouldn’t be charges this for being five minutes late

  28. Mac 17/08/2010 at 5:01 am #

    I Lyk d scheme..bcoj 1year access fee is only 45 pound.. And dats quite reasonable..but I have a qstn..if take a cycle n after reaching my destination I find there is no space on d parking place..den wht ll I do??r they r gona charg me??…

  29. Sarah 17/08/2010 at 10:28 am #

    The bikes are fantastic and very cheap. You don’t need a lock as you can just dock and take a new bike for each journey – I haven’t made a journey of over 30 mins and think it would be hard in central London to do so, so the bikes are free after the £1 access fee.

    I refuse to call them by their full name – London Bike or Boris Bike will do until another name catches on.

    My only gripe is the call centre and website. Whichever IT firm designed the web site should be fired. Credit card payments fail and trying to add another key is nearly impossible. And the call centre is routed (at very lengthy and expensive 0845 rates) to another call centre who take a message and say someone will call you back….which they don’t, or at least not for 3 days. Come on guys! I am trying to spend money with you and there is no option on the call centre to “Buy a new access”. Prioritise collecting the money and then you will have funds to add more bikes and sort out the web site.

  30. Grant 10/09/2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Sarah – don’t add another key to your account. If you do it will be charged as being used every time you use the first key – as if you made all your journeys in pairs.

    Instead, create a second account (you will need to use a variation of your name and a different email) for your second key, which will then operate independently.

    Madness? Yes! Official policy? Yes!

    TfL wrote to tell me:

    “When you signed up for Membership you opted to purchase more than one key and so I’m taking this opportunity to remind you of how your “multiple key account” works. As soon as you use the first key to undock a cycle, your access period (whether 24 hours, 7 days or one year) starts, not just for this key, but for all of your keys. Likewise, if you selected the auto-renew option when activating your keys, once any one of your keys triggers a new access period, all your keys will be charged the same access fee and not just the one used.”

  31. Tony Franklin 10/11/2010 at 1:35 am #

    As a one time resident and now (unforunately) only a visitor to London I applaud the scheme. Of course it is early days yet but if one takes the long view the concept is beneficial both for personal health, congestion and the environment generally. From many of the negative comments, I have the impression that the writers have not studied the scheme properly – go to the website and see the video – it really is quite clear., and most of the concerns expressed are addressed. As for the name – well what’s in a name?

  32. Blinky Doyle 04/12/2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Well I, and thousands of others, seem to think it’s a great scheme. There’s always going to those who only see the bad, and there’ll be those who really have no idea how it works but still knock it. (£3 return to Soho from Hoxton is complete bilge)
    Anything that’s gets people doing a modicum of exercise has to be a good thing.

  33. chris 17/12/2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Barclay’s – trying to close my mortgage and the two divisions can’t even talk together and do that.

    Incompetent – and so it the bike scheme, everytime I go down to London, I see empty racks, actually I’ve never seen a working bike.
    St Marys Hosp (Paddington)

  34. Tony Franklin 20/12/2010 at 12:09 am #

    I’m sorry to hear, Chris, that you are having trouble with your bank; probably most of us have at one time or another. However, I believe Barclays contributed to the funding for the scheme but are they involved in running it? As for empty bike racks, the only time I saw such was during a tube strike when apparently many took advantage of the system and used the bikes. Other times I saw a mix, full racks, empty racks and various states in between. I also saw many, many being used. In addition I saw many vehicles carrying cargoes of bikes I assume as part of maintaining the bikes availability. As I said earlier, it is early days and from what I have seen I still applaud the system. I hope your experiences are more favourable in the future, and I hope you got your mortgage sorted out.

  35. Alfie 07/03/2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi there, I am going to be showing some foriegn friends around London in the near future, and as they are all bike enthusiasts I thought cycling round the city would be a great way for them to see evertthing. I did however wonder about the prices for groups of tourists and if there would be any discounts as such. They will be staying in a hotel around Covent Garden hotel around Covent Garden so any information on stands in this vicinity would also be very helpful.


    • Alfie 07/03/2011 at 4:17 pm #

      Hi there, I am going to be showing some foreign friends around London in the near future, and as they are all bike enthusiasts I thought cycling round the city would be a great way for them to see everything. I did however wonder about the prices for groups of tourists and if there would be any discounts as such. They will be staying in a hotel around Covent Garden so any information on stands in this vicinity would also be very helpful.


      • Andreas 08/03/2011 at 10:37 am #

        You’d probably be best off renting a bike. There’s no group discount as such with the barclays cycle hire scheme..

  36. Mitsue Mescher 01/04/2011 at 11:08 am #

    Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

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