After sliding my credit card into a payment machine and parting with £3 of my hard earned cash the above bike is mine for 24 hours. This may soon be the reality for Londoners and visitors to London alike who wish to explore the city by bike or simply get to work.
How the cycle hire works in Montreal
- After putting your credit card into a pay station there is a $1000 hold on the card. Upon returning the bike the hold is released
- A 24 hour hire costs $5
- Alternatively to save money you can buy a 30 day pass for $28 or annual subscription for $78
- You can have a dedicated user card (Currently no plans to integrate with Oyster card)
- The 3-speed bikes used in the scheme are said to be theft proof, costing around $2000 a piece and contain a GPS chip that will make the bike unusable to a thief.
- You can check the location of the cycle hire stands by checking an online map or consulting the map at the station
On paper the scheme looks great as always however, there is of course controversy. The main body of this stems from the £140million cost associated with the project. That money will cover both the installation and the operation of the scheme for 6 years (All profits going to TfL). The bikes themselves should cost £7.2million if you consider a cost of $2,000 a bike and 6,000 bikes.
Velorution, a fellow cycling blog, took a quick look at the numbers and worked out that the cost of the scheme will be around £7,000 per extra daily cyclist, an expensive price tag.
This money could of course potentially have been spent elsewhere – the so called opportunity cost. Uses that spring to mind include new bicycle lanes, more bicycle parking or as a guardian reader suggests as grants to small businesses to provide shower/changing facilities and bike storage.
There is also some question of the practicality to London’s cyclists. As a frequent cyclist myself I can think of few scenarios, saving for a post night out dangerous cycle back, that it would come in useful. Then again I am not in their target audience of rail commuters and bus passengers. This brings another question to mind – why will there be no docking stations close to rail terminuses?
Despite all the controversy I look forward to the summer of 2010 and giving the new bikes a spin.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.