London Cycle hire scheme – Your thoughts?

Cycle hire scheme

It has been an eventful first week for the Cycle Hire Scheme. First we were told a few days before the launch that you had to pre-register. Then lots of people had problems registering and their cards being accepted. Upon launch a number of people reported bikes whose brakes were overzealous. Other people reported cycle hire docking stations not working. Lot’s of people forgot to register their cards and a few even got hit by big charges as they didn’t dock the bike correctly.

At the same time most people reported a completely smooth experience.

When I asked the question “Will you be registering for the cycle hire scheme?” the article received a huge number of responses and became the 2nd most commented on all the blog. It was fascinating to read through different people’s experiences and I was very glad to see TfL refunding those people who were hit with over charges. In this weeks Comment Friday I want to follow up and hear about people’s experiences with the scheme now that it has been going for 1 week. 

Did you try it? Are you finding the bikes are available? Have you heard about the spinning the wheels trick? Have you still not received your key card? Did you enjoy being a “pioneer” of the scheme with fellow cyclists? Will you be using it for your daily commute or for short hops? Did you manage to stay in your first 30 minutes? What do you think of the bike? Any tips for fellow cycle hire users?

Leave your answers in the comments..

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117 Responses to London Cycle hire scheme – Your thoughts?

  1. benji 06/08/2010 at 7:20 am #

    They appear to have put women’s saddles on them all >< Aren't 75% of cyclists in London Male? Seems like a sexist decision that will lead to pain and chafing for the majority of users.

    • Anon 06/08/2010 at 10:11 am #

      Perhaps with the cycle scheme we can get many more women on bikes and have that percentage lowered and a more even amount of both sexes on the road!

      • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:14 am #

        Its the same saddle used on all cycle hire schemes – generally for short hopps I think they are okay. Of course if doing a 100 mile ride your going to be feeling a little uncomfortable.

        • matthew 06/08/2010 at 2:14 pm #

          be careful tho – make sure your back from your 100 mile ride before the 30 minutes are up other wise there they’ll be a different type of pain and chafing.

    • Martin 06/08/2010 at 12:03 pm #

      Didn’t you notice the MALE/FEMALE button on the handlebars which when pressed alters the shape of the saddle via some clever pneumatic gizmo?

      • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 9:48 pm #

        This button I’ve not yet found. But I think I’m neuter gender? I always had trouble conjugating myself. Maybe I now know why.

  2. Nick Hudgell 06/08/2010 at 8:59 am #

    I initially had some issues with the registering, but got that ironed out in time for the launch – and so far had have a fairly painless experience. My first trip was on a bike that was pretty stiff – clearly the back brakes were too ‘happy’, but trying one later that day I realised not all bikes were like that. I subsequently have had two more successful trips.

    Things I have noted:
    – Spinning the back wheel to check the brakes aren’t too tight is good, but you don’t know whether the front wheel’s brakes will be bad?
    – working in mayfair, there are a few bike racks, but when I attempted to cycle from Bruton street to picadilly circus (<5 min cycle) I had to pass 2 racks, and get to my third before I found an empty slot. Then having to walk 15 min back to picadilly circus… I may as well have walked in the first place.. Too many people cycle in from Outer London in the morning, and not enough cycling out – so there are no spaces in central london, and no bikes on the outer ring of zone 1.
    – The honeymoon period is still there, with lots of people still staring and commenting – gives an interesting feel good factor.
    – Not enough people wearing helmets. Perhaps someone will set up a stall next to a rack selling cheap helmets..

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:16 am #

      Apparently the slow spinning back wheels should ease out as people work the bikes in.
      Interesting to hear about the bad distribution of bikes – I guess this is something they’ll try and address. Perhaps when it opens to all it will improve?

    • Tim 06/08/2010 at 10:59 am #

      The difference between inwards and outwards travel is interesting. Does the management plan include remote monitoring of demand and availability and redistribution of bikes between sites on a regular basis?

      • Jeff 11/08/2010 at 1:54 am #

        Just a hello from a former Londoner now living back in Montreal, the home of the Bixi system on which your bikes are based. The Bixi system has a website that is updated real time with data on availability of bikes/open docking stations. Anyone with a smart phone has everything they need, or you can check before leaving home/work, which I’m doing as I type this.
        Bixi also has a small fleet of pickup trucks (what will they use in London?) towing trailers full of bikes. They drive around all day and into the evening redistributing bikes as needed. I’m sure it’ll take a while for the people running the show to figure out the flow of things, but eventually they got it running pretty smooth in Montreal, and empty stands don’t stay empty for long and vice versa. Have fun!

    • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 9:51 pm #

      Hi Nick now there’s an idea for an enterprising barrow boy. And maybe he couls also stock quickfit/quickrelease gel bum savers. Those saddles are dynamite.

  3. tomtom 06/08/2010 at 9:44 am #

    I’ve had a great first week on the bikes. I mostly used the bikes in and around town on the weekend. It means my partner (who doesn’t normally cycle) and I can cycle into town and avoid the tubes/buses. I also found my hybrid bike at home had a puncture on tuesday morning, and I couldn’t be bothered to fix it, so I was able to jump onto a Blue Bike for most of my journey to work.

    I reckon I’ll make back the £45 annual fee in about 6-8 weeks with the cash I’m saving on tube and bus fares.

    It’s been all smooth sailing for me. I’ve been able to find the bikes when and where I need them. I have, however, been caught out by using the paper map that they sent with the key. I’ve found quite a few docking stations that are marked on the map but that haven’t been built yet! All in good time…

    So I’m loving the it, and looking forward to many more blue bike journeys!

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:17 am #

      Think a lot of people will be hoping on “Blue bikes” when their bike gets a flat. It is such a chore to repair some times!
      Thanks for leaving your experiences :)

  4. Paul 06/08/2010 at 9:56 am #

    After work I tried to use a bike for the first time but the system wouldn’t release any. This problem was particularly annoying for the few who managed to get a bike and were looking to leave it in Baylis Rd, nr Waterloo which had become full and slots couldn’t become free because people couldn’t take out bikes.

    Also, I would like to see ways of incentivising users to relief the pressure of the busy stations. Ie free hour for people who take the bike out of oversubscribed bike stations. The trucks with trailers can only do so much.

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:18 am #

      The incentivising is what they do in Paris so it might work well here in London too

    • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 9:52 pm #

      I like this Paul. I really like this.

    • Tom 11/08/2010 at 1:19 pm #

      Incentivising is an excellent idea, much less expensive than driving trucks around the city all the time

  5. Dawn 06/08/2010 at 10:13 am #

    It works for me, apart from the panic about not finding a docking station free near Waterloo station at the end of the day. So far, I’ve used the bikes twice a day since last Friday (but not yesterday) and I’ve been lucky to get a docking station (just!).

    Today, I’m wearing my Barclays Cycle Hire t-shirt that arrived in the post last night. It’s rather snug so looks like the equivalent of a lycra top!

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:19 am #

      Looks like the whole docking station at Waterloo is one of the main issues people are having! Congrats on being in the first 1000 who registered!

      • JT 11/08/2010 at 11:56 pm #

        Today Covent Garden was a no go zone for nearly an hour! No docking spaces in 4 locations. It was an absolute nightmare! When you got extra time (15 mins – nI had to do twice) & checked the other places nearby they would say Drury Lane for instance one space & when you got there there were of course no spaces & so on. I was half an hour late because of all this plus exhausted going round and round. In the end found one single space on Great Russell Street which meant a ten minute walk to work. Had I taken a bus I would have been there 40 minutes earlier! Very disappointing! I expect once they allow tourists to take bikes in September it will be nigh impossible to get docking spaces or bikes!

        • Dani Riot 12/08/2010 at 9:07 am #

          If you think september will be bad, just wait for october and november when no-one wants a bike because the weather has turned bad

    • Andreas 13/08/2010 at 12:08 pm #

      Just heard today that Waterloo Station is a priority for more bikes and docking stations

  6. Liv 06/08/2010 at 10:19 am #

    I normally commute in on my own bike but yesterday planned on taking one of Boris’ for a joy ride. I couldn’t access any with my key and called up the line to be hung up on 3 times before finally getting through to someone.

    It seems the teething problems are still existing as I was told that many of the docking stations would be down for an indefinite period, perhaps all night. I tried 3 different stations all with the same result but saw several people on the road on the bikes. Did anyone else have this issue?

    Having said that it’s absolutely awesome seeing so many dapper ladies and gents getting about on the bikes, an exciting time for London!

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:42 am #

      Sorry to hear the joy ride didn’t work out! Sounds like a very bad experience with the call centre also. I’m guessing they are having one hell of a tough week coping with the calls!

  7. Mark 06/08/2010 at 10:21 am #

    They charged me twice and sent two keys and the call centre isn’t working (they’re just taking names and numbers and not calling back). So am a bit unhappy on that front.

    I like the bikes though. Comfy enough for short hops. Few teething troubles getting bikes out at first but they seem to be working ok now. There’s a lot more people using them than I expected.

  8. MarkA 06/08/2010 at 10:23 am #

    Great idea for a comment thread Andreas!

    After a few registration niggles (ironed out by the time the system launched by a very helpful employee at the call centre) I’ve had a totally trouble-free experience using the hire bikes. I’ve made 8 or 9 journeys and only had to pay for one (at 30min and 3 seconds I got hit with a pound charge!)

    The “Ooh look, there’s a Boris Bike!” element is still there, but less noticeably so now. On the first day I did two journeys and had conversations with 11 different people about the scheme, which is a bit crazy.

    I don’t think we can grumble too much about initial bugs in the system – we all signed up as ‘pioneers’ knowing full well that the launch could be problematic. (For once Boris was quite prosaic in stating clearly that the launch would not be 100% smooth)

    My only gripes so far has been the volume of bikes with over-tightened back brakes (always spin the freewheel before hiring!), a lack of bikes left in the stands in central London come 5.30 (I couldn’t get a bike from Conduit St in Mayfair twice this week come home time) and the lack of parking spaces at Shoreditch in the evenings – the docking station there really needs to be expanded.

    Other than that, it’s been great, and I even got a hideous totally unwearable t-shirt with a picture of Boris on a Bike sent to me in the post. Nice!

    PS @Nick Hudgell You won’t see many people wearing helmets because spontaneous hirers aren’t going to be carrying helmets around with them (although I have seen a few Boris Bike riders wearing helmets of their own) It’s not the law to wear one and whilst the rules of using the scheme do say ‘you should consider wearing a helmet’ it allows adults to make up their own mind as to whether they should use one or not; definitely the right approach in my mind.

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:44 am #

      Shame to hear the “oooh a Boris Bike” is wearing out! I’m sure that was one of the most fun elements of being a “pioneer”! Look forward to seeing all these Boris Bikes teething problems ironed out so we can enjoy a smoother experience! Does seem a little strange all the problems considering the system is tried and tested in other cities.

      Agreed on the helmet wearing

      • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 9:57 pm #

        I’m still getting favourable comments and smiles today. BTW, will it be a BorisBike or a BarclayBike? I do like Boris the pseudoBuffoon but I think Barclays deserve the publicity ’cause they put their money on the line. I think I’ll call mine a BarclayBike.

  9. Nick Hudgell 06/08/2010 at 10:27 am #

    @MarkA I completely agree with the helmet. I have used the bikes 4 times now, and not worn a helmet once. However I wouldn’t leave the house on my bike without wearing one.. so as long as people are sensible – it should be fine. It’s just an interesting thought.

  10. gibby 06/08/2010 at 10:29 am #

    I think Paul’s comment is definitely a pretty interesting one- as a development of the scheme wouldn’t it be great to see TfL bring out incentivised pricing (longer free periods/ free credits for future rides) together with a web-app for smartphones that allows scheme members to locate these and take advantage of them, to try to get users to do some of the balancing for them.

    I also think that for usage of them to take off then there will need to be hugely increased capacity at the mainline stations as that is surely where the largest number of potential users coming into town will want to pick them up.

    First impression of the scheme are great. The bikes are highly visible and high profile and , unlike the comment a couple above, I think that not having helmets is a crucial part of using the scheme to help “normalise” cyclists in popular perception and move people away from this crap myth of “lycra clad road warriors”. If non cyclist see normal people in their normal clothes then it helps to make cycling seem like a normal part of london life.

    Ultimately I have to say I agree with freewheeler over on http://crapwalthamforest.blogspot.com/ though. Without the infrastructure put in place to follow this, the scheme won’t make a gnat’s chuff width of a difference to cycling modal share

    What I hope is that this scheme starts the conversation about appropriate infrastructure

    • Kirses 06/08/2010 at 11:33 am #

      I loved being able to cycle in a dress and heels fro the first time on the day they launched – agree re normalising cyclists..

  11. Kirses 06/08/2010 at 10:32 am #

    I’ve had no problems at all the three times I’ve grabbed a hire bike – I’m loving them! I also got the t-shirt – which I agree is largely unwearable – yet it didn’t stop me wearing it on my cycle commute in this morning :)

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 10:46 am #

      I totally missed out on the T-shirt! Mind you I agree I wouldn’t want to wear it much around London

    • walltoall 10/08/2010 at 7:47 pm #

      Hey Kirses Gimme the shirt and I’LL wear it

  12. Dawn 06/08/2010 at 10:53 am #

    Ebay Listing: One Large (Toddler sizing) Limited Edition 1/1000 Barclays Cycle Hire T-shirt. One careful helmet-wearing lady owner. Proudly worn once or twice.
    Offers?!

    • Dani Riot 06/08/2010 at 11:04 am #

      i’m interested in seeing what they look like, anyone got any pictures?

      • Kirses 06/08/2010 at 11:25 am #

        Hiya

        Here are some pics took with my phone last night – BoJo on the back…

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirses07

        • Dani Riot 06/08/2010 at 11:31 am #

          okay, i agree, completely unwearable. lol

        • sian evans 06/08/2010 at 1:04 pm #

          Yes I got one of those too and was wondering how to year it? Decided as a pyjama top is my only option and then I just night end up splitting it!

  13. Ed 06/08/2010 at 11:04 am #

    I had a good start with the scheme – key arrived last Thursday, used the bikes for two trips on Friday and worked out really well – for me it seems perfect for those days when I don’t want to have to worry about locking up my bike somewhere new or am going to be drinking in the evening. Bikes are obviously a bit heavier and slower than my usual bike, but still a worthy scheme.

    Sadly I started having problems shortly after – tried to use it on Tuesday afternoon and got told by the machines that my key was invalid. Tried it at a couple of places with the same result. Phoned the call centre and had the same experience as Mark – still waiting for a call back. I haven’t been able to get onto the website at all since last weekend. So, I’m still waiting for someone to sort out my technical problems, which is the kind of problem which could put people off (I’m going to keep trying though).

    I think the lack of helmets isn’t great, especially considering they want to encourage new cyclists. Andreas – how about a feature on fold up helmets as I don’t really like carrying around my helmet and I can only see a couple of gimmicks on google.

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 1:41 pm #

      I remember seeing the Dahon folding helmet here:
      http://www.bikerumor.com/2009/10/07/dahons-folding-bicyclehelmet/

      Might be of interest? Not sure if its been sold in the UK

      • Ed 08/08/2010 at 11:04 am #

        Can’t see it on general sale anyway, but maybe someone will spot the market niche for it now and get it on the market.

        Just an update on my situation – I have finally managed to sign in on the website – it seems that there is a problem for people using O2 broadband accessing the scheme’s website relating to DNS servers (see http://forum.o2.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=49574&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 for info and http://www.adsl2forum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=9145 for instructions on how to change DNS servers). If others on O2 are having a similar problem, then this is worth checking out.

        Having done that and renewed my access period, I’m hoping that my key will now be working, although if so, it seems odd that they display a message that my key is invalid on the machines, instead of just not having any money loaded on it.

        Btw, still no response to my phone calls or e-mails, very disappointing. Especially bearing in mind the glowing e-mail this morning about how wonderful the scheme has worked – either ignoring niggles or I’m in a very small minority.

  14. Alex 06/08/2010 at 11:05 am #

    I took a Boris Bike from Angel to the Royal Albert Hall (for the Proms) and managed to do it within 30mins, few!
    I found the gearing not stiff enough at times – would have liked a little more speed.

    I commute daily into work on my Brompton and to date have had no problems with other road users.

    On my single trip on the Boris Bike, I had a taxi pull out and block my way, even though we had locked eyes as I approached. Luckily the 4 other cyclists around me made enough noise that the Taxi driver reversed back to let us through.. grr.

    Then whilst taking a strong line on entry to Hyde Park Corner, a TfL bus honked me, and shook his hand at me – I wasn’t impressed, bearing in mind I’ve taken the junction in the same manner many times before without any hastle from other road users (who appreciate the vulnerability of cyclists on the junction).

    I assume that there is a resentment from the other public transport operators who are angry that the bikes are stealing their custom, and I feel there is an asumption that if we are on a Boris Bike we are obviously incompetant cyclists..

    Yours,
    Angry, from Crouch End.

    • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 10:10 pm #

      Bugger TFL drivers/taxis who think BarclayBike is taking thier business. I’ve a travelcard any day I go in so I CHOOSE to use the bike instead of transport I’ve already paid for. I’ve not had any hassle at all from anyone, but I do try to be considerate. It does help to wave and smile and evewn engage in conversation. (something certain Londoners do have great difficulty with). BTW, although early users are likely to be commuters there is no empirical evidence that a majority or ANY percentage ARE commuters. I see dozens on BarclayBikes during any trip during the working day. You can’t be ALL out wasting you employer’s time can you? Jolly up – stop moaning – get used to the new concept – make it work for you – adapt.

    • Hesh 11/08/2010 at 3:13 pm #

      Alex,
      I’d be very interested to hear your route from Angel to RAH, if you wouldn’t mind posting.
      Thanks

  15. James 06/08/2010 at 11:21 am #

    Borris’ Bikes are great!! Normally commute to work on my own bike but on a couple of days since the scheme launched I have had to leave my bike at home.. It is great to know I don’t have to squeeze on a tube or sweat it out on a bus. Now even when I have to get the train in I can enjoy a nice ride through the park to work.. For less than the price of one bus journey!

  16. Jim 06/08/2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Diary of a Borris Biker

    Barclays Cycle Hire

    31/7/10 – First day of Barclays Cycle Hire.  Picked up a bike from Kingscross rode to Holborn very impressed bike rides well and it feels like a very plesant way to finish my journey into work.  Picked up a bike at lunch time went to White Chappell street market for lunch and rode back to Holborm this is looking good.  Rode from Holborn to Kingscross at end of day all in all very good.

    2/8/10 (08:15 to 09:00) – Not able to get a bike at any of the docks between Kingscross and Guildford St. Spoke to help line who told me there was a general problem and to try other docking stations.  Eventually got a bike at Guildford St rode to Red Lion Square!

    2/8/10 (mid morning) – Got bike from Great Queens St to Red Lions Square.

    2/8/10 (13:00ish) – heard that people were being charged for not docking their bikes properly but that was a general issue and TfL were not actually deduction money from peoples bank accounts.  Phoned help line just make sure i wasn’t one of these people they checked my account and there were not problems.

    3/8/10 (08:15 to 09:00) – Can’t get a bike anywhere tried seven docks!  Spoke to Islan who told me my key was locked as the system said I had not returned a bike from yesterday. Islan told me he would instruct an engineer to find the bike dock it correctly and reset the system.  Islan couldn’t tell me when this might happen so advised me to try getting a bike later in the day.

    3/8/10 (most of the afternoon and early evening) trying tp resolve problem of later return fee and get key activated.  Eventually told I was beijg investigated and that this was likely to take a couple of days in the mean time I can’t use the bikes.

    4/8/10 (15:59) – Spoke to Dan regarding still not being able to get a bike out of either the Southhampton Place or Great Queen St. docks he took my detail and said someone call me back as high priority.  By chance I had spoken to Dan twice yesterday so he understands my problem has been going on some time.

    4/8/10 – Have tried three time over last 24 hours to raise an incident using the on line form but each time i get the following message
    Barclays Cycle Hire / Website unavailable

    Website unavailable
    Sorry, the Barclays Cycle Hire website is currently unavailable. Please try again later or call our contact centre on 0845 026 3630 referencing Support ID 15422687983222257418.

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    TfL have taken my contact details several times over the last three days to call me back and help resolve my problems with not beimg able to get a bike.  No body ever calls back!!
    —————————————-

    4/8/10 – (20:30) Still notheard back from TfL so decided to call them.  Initial reaction was that I wastrying to use docking stations that weren’t ready! Then its because i didn’t pull the bike out within 15 seconds of amber light coming on??! Not sure these people understand their own system.  Anyway final sollution is for me to try again tomorrow and call TfL if unsuccessful while I’m at the dock they will then sort it out there and then… heres hopeing!!!

    5/8/10 (06:10) just got an email saying my account was suspended last night at 10:36 god knows why whats wrong with the thing now.  i’ll be realy disapointed if it doesn’t work this morning i’ve got up especially early to get a bike and as suggested yesterday call them if I’m having problems.

    5/8/10 (06:15) Can’t access my account on line to see whats going on.

    5/8/10 (06:30 ish) spoke to helpful TfL lady who has unlocked my acount again.

    5/8/10(07:00) finally got a bike and rode from Kingscross to Londonbridge in just under 30mins should have been quicker but grid lock round Mansion House area.  Docked bike at Druid St and made sure green light came on!!

    5/8/10 (08:30ish) Picked up bike just off Bermondsey St rode to Red Lion Square, this is how it should work lovely.  Docked bike made absolutly sure green light came on before leaving bike.

    5/8/10 (17:50) Borris obviously has it in for me tried to get a bike from Kingsway, denied.  Called help line who are experiencing high call volumes spoke to “John” who took my details promising, like all the rest, that someone would call me back… that old chestnut.

    5/8/10 (18:05) Knowing that I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a call back from the help line I call again no response at all this time :-(
    —————————————-

    5/8/10 (19:30ish) Called help line on the off chance there might be helpfull human being at the other end surprise surprise still encountering high call volumes.  But this time I get through to the message taking monkey who actually has some useful information, rather than the broken record “I’ll take your detail and we’ll call you back…”, he explains that there is a system wide problem.  Ok this isn’t great news but at least I know what’s happening.

    6/8/10 (07:45) – Just picked an email stating that my account was suspended again last night at 10:20, again don’t know why.  Spoke to help line who don’t know why this would be and have reactivated my account. Again a little more acknowledgement that the scheme has been overwhelmed with bugs and that the help line is way behind.  Ok it’s a pain but at least it’s being slowly recognised that this is not my fault, unlike earlier this week.

    • Andreas 06/08/2010 at 1:45 pm #

      Wow – sounds like a very time wasting experience! Can’t believe so many issues with the hire scheme especially after it worked fine on the first day.

    • Tina 06/08/2010 at 4:20 pm #

      Hey Jim,

      you certainly are persistent! I would have given up by Wednesday. Good luck with getting your account fixed, again. I think I’ll leave it for now and wait a couple of months until the teething is sorted.

      tina

    • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 10:20 pm #

      Jim brilliant log. I applaud your tenacity. I’ve had no problems at all but I do keep a log as I go just in case. The most important thing to log as far as I’m concerned is the out time so I know how long I got to next dock. I hope things sort out for you Jim you do need a bit of concerted action on your case by the organisers. My next trick is to carry my camera and log all the delivery vans clogging up all the cycle lanes all morning. Between Jewry Street and Speakers Corner (29mins beat that) I counted 15 of these and five were post vans. Why can’t they do their bloody deliveries before six in the morning?

    • Geoff V 08/08/2010 at 5:40 pm #

      Jim

      You are not alone. See my story below.

  17. sian evans 06/08/2010 at 12:54 pm #

    I’ve had a great first week on the hire bikes. I work between two officer a 10min walk from each other and it’s been great cycling between them instead. I also use it to cycle to Victoria station at the end of the day. So far there’s always been a docking pub hon free when I got there even during traditional commuting times. I hope this continues.

  18. Liz 06/08/2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Normally I bring my Brompton in to town on the train to Waterloo, arrive at about 6.50 and cycle, via Southwark Bridge, to Devonshire Square in about 15 or 20 mins, depending on the lights, because unlike some, I observe them! I do not wear a helmet or Lycra for this journey, but would not be happy wearing a skirt as there is little protection from the rear wheel. 
    I have tried a Boris Bike on 4 days this week, once in a dress, and have found them to be a pleasure to ride. I grant that they are sedate, but that came as no surprise, and I accept that the seat is wide (although I would not call it a ladies seat as the seats I have on all three of by bikes are significantly narrower), but they are aimed at being used for short journeys by casual users. 
    On the four days I have used them, I have had a choice of bikes at Waterloo, and only on one day did I have to walk the short distance to Wormwood Street to get a bike to come back on, otherwise Devonshire Sq had ample. Journey time is nearer 20 to 25 mins as the bikes are slow, but I make the time up by not having to lug my Brompton to my desk and fold/unfold it. 
    I did have a problem yesterday morning, first not being able to undock at Waterloo and then not being able to dock at Devonshire Sq, but on both occasions I spoke with very helpful and courteous people on the help line who sorted the problems for me. Yes it took time, but anyone who thought this was going to be a totally pain free launch was kidding themselves. Although we are not the first scheme to launch, so I am sure we have been spared many issues, any new system like this was going to have problems – I seem to remember the Oyster did (and from 
    my experience still does). 
    I agree that other road users seem to be a little unnecessary on occasion, I had one private hire cab stand in his horn for daring to want to turn right in a right hand turn lane when he wanted to go straight on, and one Lycra clad road warrior cut across me, but they may both just be rude by nature. 
    All in all I have been pleasantly surprised by how well it has all gone and just hope that TfL make sure the bikes and infrastructure are properly maintained so that it continues to be a good experience. 

  19. Mark 06/08/2010 at 4:34 pm #

    So far so good. Used it pretty much every day and always found a bike available at the start and an empty docking station at the end of the journey (though this has been a close shave on a couple of occasions).

    Agree with the comments above that, whilst I would never ride my own bike without a helmet, I seem to have dropped my safety standards when on the hire bikes for some reason.

    Had a problem on Sunday when the system was down, but I called the helpline on the key and they told me that the computers were down so I got the tube instead.

    The bikes are quite hard work compared with my own much lighter bike, but I guess it will be a good work-out!

    Thanks Ken for getting this one started!

  20. Bill 06/08/2010 at 6:26 pm #

    Not a glitch so far. 100% positive from my perspective. I still can’t get over the frequency of docking stations. After the initial couple of minutes the bikes don’t feel heavy – but suitably robust/stable. The gearing’s fine and it’s great to have lights built in. I’m sure the brakes will ease off but meanwhile the spin-the-wheel is probably sensible.

    I docked a bike and walked to a nearby cafe one afternoon. I couldn’t work out at first why I felt so relaxed. Then the penny dropped that usually when leaving my own bike locked up I’ve got a little anxiety somewhere at the back of my mind. Once you’ve ‘got green’ on a BCH bike it’s not your responsibility. So on balance I’d use the BCH bikes for any commuting/short hops round central London – and enjoy my own bike for further afield.

    I’ve made about 30 journeys (all free because I keep the journey time to under 30 minutes which is suitable in London anyway) and not had any difficulties with full/empty docking stations – so I guess their monitoring and re-distribution must be working well.

  21. idavid 06/08/2010 at 7:08 pm #

    Love ‘em. But don’t stop – you’ll immediately become a tourist attraction.

    • walltoall 06/08/2010 at 10:23 pm #

      I LOVE being a tourist attraction

  22. newmo 07/08/2010 at 12:07 am #

    26 journeys all weekday ones, mostly South of the river and still having a lot of enjoyment out of the bikes. Today demand and supply seemed out of balance – there was a big hike in usage IMO judging by Southwark Street Docking Station (by London Bridge Station) between last Friday and today. There were only three bikes docked this morning and only one that was undockable compared to a 70% full station at the beginning of the week.

    At the end of the day everyone was having docking problems, not the technical cost-you-three hundred-quid type but the much simple one of lack of free spaces. I’m kind of hitting myself for not showing another dockless rider how to check if the station he was going to try next had free spaces- I already knew where I was going to go as a back-up.

    I’m trying to be philosophical and treating an empty/full station as the equivilant of a ten-minute delay due to points failure or a cancelled buses or whatever..

    Outside work I was much more surprised to see an empty station at lunch today – that really hasn’t been used at all until now- I guess a swarm of Blackfriars Rail users finally did their research and swooped down on them this morning. I thought I was going to have to walk to the next backstreet one but half an hour before I left I saw my first redistribution with bikes being delivered on trailers. I was sadly excited by the logistics of it all.

    So today has been the most disappointing – I didn’t opt for the full year renewal (my seven days was up today) deciding to go for auto-renewing 24 hour periods. I stupidly forgot about the expiry and got confused – I cycled to meet my partner for lunch and when I went to take a bike back to work the station didn’t allow me to undock any bikes. So I walked up to the next station and tried again but…and then the penny (or £5) dropped. I had even agreed with a bloke who accosted me saying it wasn’t working. It wa sonly my brain that wasn’t working.

    Despite today I give it a full ten out of ten – no horror stories, I like the bikes, I like the freedom. I like the practicality. Its an activity in need of more succint terminology though – its not just what we call the actual bikes that needs to be sorted out.

    • walltoall 07/08/2010 at 10:25 pm #

      Very interesting and informative comments NEWMO which were useful to me. I spent Saturday starting at Whitechapel and working my way one docking point at a time and mapping them all onto my A-Z until I reached Angel. You would not believe how many I found hidden in cul-de-sacs and places you would never expect them. The official map is a bit useless but I don’t care. I’m having fun. Today I used a single bike 11390 all day cause it was as free as the wind. I think I’ve sussed the system and I never missed a single dock outside the free limit. Oh! And to the conventional cyclist I totally left behind at Old Street sorry for upsetting your ego but at that moment I was really in a hurry as I had a date with a computer clock in Silk Street. Boy those BarclayBikes really shift when you get up on the step.

    • annmucc 16/08/2010 at 2:22 pm #

      Hmm – you wrote that you can check if the alternative station you’re going to go to has empty docking stations…any info on how?

  23. Johnnie Moore 07/08/2010 at 3:43 pm #

    I’m jealous of those folks who seem to have been having a good time.

    I’ve had nothing but aggravation from the cycle hire website which simply will not process my login. I have repeatedly gone through the process to reset my password and ended up in a death loop of error messages. I have spoken to the call centre every single day this week and been told someone will call me back, which they don’t.

    I would have thought getting a working login system would be a fairly straightforward IT challenge but it is beyond TfL it seems. Though clearly it’s not been an issue for others, so I’m baffled as well as frustrated!

    • Ed 08/08/2010 at 11:06 am #

      I’ve just added a post higher up the page about the problems I had logging in with my O2 broadband – if you’re with O2 then check it out as it sounds like you have a similar problem to me.

      • JT 12/08/2010 at 12:13 am #

        I am with o2 and have never been able to enter the website @ home. The only way I can do that is @ work or on my iPhone. It is bizarre. It just comes up as a server error. I could not even get a contact us page!

  24. Jen 08/08/2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I signed up for annual membership out of curiosity. I cycle to work everyday from Kilburn to Kings Cross and don’t really need to use the hire bikes and there aren’t any docking stations near home that I coulduse to cycle to work but I thought I’d sign up as it could be useful.

    I had a lot of teething problems getting my account set up initially due to the website being down and then because of several call centre staff spelling my name wrong repeatedly even when i spelt it about 8 times, clearly and phonetically and one guy spelling google wrong so they had my email address spelt wrong! I also got the promise of a call back but 3 days later was still waiting for the call!

    I spent ages on the phone trying to sort it out and it nearly put me off but then my key arrived and I was really excited. I tried out a bike one day during lunch and took it on a short trip that I would usually have walked or cycled on my own bike but i had forgotten my lock that day so it seemed a good time to try the scheme.

    I have to admit I was a little disappointed by the bikes. I knew they would be heavy but I wasn’t prepared for:
    – the terrible saddles (so bulky at the back that it kept pushing me off the front of the saddle and I had to constantly readjust my position)
    – the minimial gears – I know they probably don’t want people to go fast on them but you can’t pick up any reasonable speed. great for cruising on the weekend but not running errands in your lunch break. The hardest gear is nowhere near the gear I start off in at traffic lights so i found it quite frustrating!

    But I am trying to look on the bright side and see the scheme for what it is…an inexpensive way to get from A to B when i’m without my own bike. I think I need to ride a bike a bit more to get used to it especially the weight as it threw me off balance when I was trying to indicate. I just don’t think I will be using it as often as I thought I would!

  25. Geoff V 08/08/2010 at 5:32 pm #

    As an early adopter I expected some teething problems but I wasn’t prepared for the hassle that I was about to experience.

    Registering was fine and I got my two fobs in the post the next day. On launch day ( Friday) the first ride was problem free. Great! My problems started at noon that day when I took a bike from Lancaster Gate to Paddington – a 7 minute ride. I docked the bike. No green light, I tried to take the bike out of the stand to do it again but it was locked firmly in place. Two official helpers happened to be at the station in South Wharf Rd and witnessed my difficulty. I immediately called the helpline to report the fault. I couldn’t use my fob and the call centre agent said it was just a computer glitch and I should try again in an hour.

    Later in the day I tried to do just that but my account was still blocked so I called the Call Centre again. No record of my previous call so I had to fully explain again to a different Agent. After much faff he announced that everything was ok but that my account would not work for about an hour. I went home.

    On Saturday morning I got a call from the Call Centre to say that I had a bike outstanding! No record of my calls on the system. I explained that this was a bit absurd. £150 was docked from CC that day. After another angry call I was promised that I could use my account. On Sunday morning I got my first of what have been daily emails telling me that my account had been suspended.

    I called again and yet again NO record of my problems. They said that they had to locate the bike in South Quay Rd. They eventually did a few hours later and freed my account. The fob was working again. On Monday morning I got the second email telling me that my account had been suspended again this despite at least 3 agents telling me that they had sorted the problem out. My fob wouldn’t work.

    Every day from Monday to Friday I had to call the Centre in response to a suspension email and each day I have been unsuspended only to be resuspended the following morning. An absolutely ludicrous situation.

    Eventually I got a call from a senior supervisor on Friday ( 8th day of the nightmare) telling me that I am being refunded the £150 and sorry for the plethora of emails. Saturday morning – yes you guessed it I got the suspension email again!

    The scheme is brilliant. It has been tainted for me however as you can imagine. I am just very frustrated that nobody will take ownership of problems, the customer service system is shockingly poor and that the scheme has been bedevilled with supposed bugs.

    From what I read I think I am in a minority and that I was just so unlucky that I tried to dock a bike in a faulty station. I didn’t think it would cause SO much difficulty and frustration however.

    • Dawn 08/08/2010 at 7:21 pm #

      Crikey, you have had a rough time, Geoff!

      I docked a bike on Friday in Horseferry Road. The docking station made very peculiar noises and the light didn’t turn green but I couldn’t get it out of the docking station. However I printed my journey from using the tower thing next to the docking stations and it showed the bike had registered as being docked.

      When I bumped into someone else docking a bike at Waterloo station on the first Friday, he told me about being able to print out the journey you’ve made so I’ve been printing my journey out, then I have paper evidence about the journey I’ve made and the hire cost for it.
      It was an invaluable tip from the fellow cyclist. If the printout subsequently shows the bike hasn’t been docked, then you can ring the Helpline there and then. I’m sorry you’ve had trouble with the Helpline, I’ve found them to be extremely helpful and pleasant every time I’ve rung them.

      Tomorrow is the first day of another working week. Let’s hope we all get a bike when we want and take it to where we want and it can dock it successfully!!

      • James R Grinter 10/08/2010 at 3:22 pm #

        I had one instance of taking a trip, followed by a problematic docking (a nasty clunking noise on the first attempt, followed by an amber light – but I was able to take it out again with my key and re-dock it) where it didn’t record a journey on my key at all. So I couldn’t print a receipt! (I did take a picture of the docked bicycle.)

        The advice on ‘always make sure you get a green light when docking’ is great, but there’s no advice on what to do if you don’t! (and I’ve sent a comment to that effect to the new form of their enquiries email address, the one which is [at]barclayscyclehire.tfl.gov.uk)

    • Nikki 12/08/2010 at 8:22 am #

      Sounds like you’ve had a really bad time of it Geoff. I’ve been trying to use the bikes every day for the past two weeks – Angel to Old Street. I have two keys. I’ve been given a red light every day so can’t use the bike. I ring up, it’s fixed after 5 minutes and next time I go to use the bike … red light! They seem to focus on fixing the immediate problem but long term solutions aren’t quite there yet. We all want this great scheme to work and recognise there will be teething problems but for some of us it’s just getting silly. At this rate I’ll be going back to shanks pony!

  26. Sam C 08/08/2010 at 9:23 pm #

    I love the scheme but they’ve clearly got some big problems with their back-end systems and I have, like some of the others above, being suffering to the point that I’ve requested to cancel my account, with a view to signing up again in a month or two when they’ve fixed things.

    So, I had docking problems on the first day, got charged 150 quid for non-return, which they’ve refunded without quibble (and it wasn’t me being a muppet either as their on-site staff checked my bike was docked correctly), but my account is consistently suspended every night and I have to ring up to get it reactivated. I also have had at least three other people’s activity appear on my account, which is quite worrying. So anyway, for now I have no confidence in the scheme and I’m not looking forward to seeing my mobile bill.

    Anyway, I’m sure they’ll sort this stuff out soon. I’m more interested to see how they manage capacity – like someone else noted they will obviously have high demand at mainline stations in the morning and vice-versa in the evening.

  27. christian D 09/08/2010 at 9:25 am #

    This morning at 8:30 there were no bikes on Baylis road, lambeth north, concert hall and Stamford st. These are all bays in waterloo. Only a few bikes were at dock to which about 15 people tried to unlock without success. I called the helpline and they told me the bikes were out of order.
    They suggested I take a short 5 minute walk to Vauxhall? I explained there is no way that a person can walk there in 5 minutes. They told me I was wrong because the system says so. The chap on the helpline had no idea on the whereabouts of other docking stations; he doesn’t know central London and told me there is absolutely nothing they could do.
    I got a bit frustrated as this meant I will be late for work now, on a Monday morning! He said because am on an annual contract he can’t do anything, can’t add another day or even refund prepaid past days when I was trying out the system.
    I requested for a supervisor to give me a call. So let’s wait for that.
    Will keep you guys posted.

  28. Tony P 09/08/2010 at 10:56 am #

    My fiance has an annual membership and is loving it and the BorisBarclayBikes but I’m very disappointed with the customer care in that one of the main reasons for subscribing was the advertised buy a membership and get up to three extra keys for family members. The website advertises “Get a key (£3 each) for quick access to cycles [and] Get up to three extra keys to share with friends or family” while the terms and conditions explicitly state: “If you register as a Member, you will be required to purchase a Key for yourself and each Additional User.” (Terms and Conditions 5.1) A key. £3 each. The implication is a £48 initial outlay and an extra £9 for three keys. When we phoned up we were told that actually each key would require the membership fee as well (£45 + £3). That’s a cost of £192! That’s four memberships, not one membership and three additional users. In today’s economic climate that’s one hell of a cost. Now if that’s how they want to do it I have no problem with that. My problem is that in my viewpoint the website and terms and conditions are (willingly or incompetently?) misleading and need revising. At the moment they are advertising one thing and actually delivering a far more expensive thing. I’m not sure where they stand with this in terms of legality but it is something that they HAVE to do open and clear about.

    • Andreas 12/08/2010 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks for this feedback and good advice about the 4 keys. Seems like its something to avoid until it is cleared up.

    • James R Grinter 12/08/2010 at 11:17 am #

      I agree about the sign-up being misleading, as was the marketing video.

      The video implied that a member could take out up to four bikes. The sign-up implied the keys were all on the same membership, but in fact they’re individual memberships all on the same (payment) account.

      The bit that really doesn’t make sense – and just *has* to be an implementation screwup – is the charge of the access period for each and every key on an account, if any of them are used.

  29. DJC 09/08/2010 at 3:10 pm #

    A follow up to my post last week.
    I’ve now had a week of ‘commuting’ on a Boris Bike. The usual walk to work takes less than 20 minutes – from breakfast table to office chair. The bike only shaves three minutes of that – there is a slight detour to the nearest bike rack at the breakfast end, observing one way streets, pavements and red lights all take time – so not much difference. But then no cause for disappointment if a bike is not available. But then again, taking the bean counters’ view: if I were saving 6 minutes on everyone of my official 220 work days per year, then I only need to value my own time at £2 per hour to justify the £45! Actually I consider the annual fee worth it just for the option on something can occasionally be quite useful, a sunk cost on the option and the trivial journeys are free. And it has been useful at weekends: last week it was Sloan Sq to Bloomsbury in 28 minutes, this week Kings Cross to the Imperial War Museum in 21. I like a stroll along the Embankment on a Sunday afternoon but walking the length of Kings Cross and Farringdon Roads does nothing to raise the spirit. I foresee a wider range to my weekend walks in future.
    Today I encountered a problem finding a free parking place: Theobalds Rd full, Red Lion Sq full, fortunately one place free at Holborn, but the extra time including the walk back to my original destination made it longer than walking all the way. And there seems to be a problem printing out the journey records sometimes.
    I think the soft start is a good thing, though I am not sure how much of it was intentional. The bike racks and the bikes themselves do a good job making people aware of the scheme, and a pool of early adopters talking to curious onlookers will probably do a much better job of promotion than overblown PR. Too often launch events are oversold leading to disappointment and bad headlines when the inevitable problems occur.
    Helmets? No, I don’t want to be associated with self righteous red-light jumping maniacs in lycra.

  30. Rory 10/08/2010 at 7:32 am #

    Started with a bike about 10 mins after the scheme launched. Have been using between 2 and 5 trips per day (Kings Cross, Soho, West End). By the end of next week will have made my 45 pounds back from Bus and Tube savings alone. It’s great to walk out a meeting grab a bike and move on to the next one. Reckon I save an hour a day, get some exercise and save on transport costs.

    I have had absolutely zero problems so far. All worked like clockwork – no extra charges, key works every time, always bikes/empty slots when I need them.

    Next step – more cycleways, more bikes and more stations over a wider area.

    Great start to a great scheme

    • Andreas 12/08/2010 at 9:51 am #

      Good to hear about this success story using the cycle hire scheme!

  31. Dawn 10/08/2010 at 8:27 am #

    Even though I am a great advocate of the scheme, I didn’t hire a bike this morning and there appeared to be several in the docking stations nearest Waterloo station so I guess the rain has put a lot of users off as well.

    Going home, it won’t matter if I get soaked to the skin. But in the mornings, the time saved on biking to the office would be cancelled out by the changing of clothes, hairdryer etc etc to look half presentable to colleagues and visitors.

    I guess I’m probably not the only wimp out there but would be interested to see who did cycle on a BBB this morning.

    • Dani Riot 10/08/2010 at 9:55 am #

      I wonder what the contingency is for rusting?

      • Pete Cruze 23/09/2010 at 1:45 pm #

        Aluminium!

    • Qatzel Ok 19/08/2010 at 7:36 pm #

      The switch to the bicycle as a primary means of transportation involves more than a change of mindset. You might actually have to buy a few accesories, like rain pants and a raincoat. Doesn’t everyone in London already own these things? I live in Montreal, and have all the equipment I need for rain and/or snow.

      Perhaps the internal combustion engine took away some of our previous wisdom. Easy to get it back though. Just think about ways you can protect yourself from tiny drops of water falling from the sky…

  32. djc 10/08/2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Cycled this morning, but after the rain had stopped.
    Last night was a working late night, just the sort of occasion a bike would be useful, or so I thought…
    Plenty of bikes in Gower Place at 11pm so should have been home in fifteen minutes, but at Ampton St. 0 docking spaces, no matter Great Percy Str in a near home, but 0 docking spaces, cycled past my front door to St Chad’s Str. 0 docking spaces, Belgrove str 0, Tavistock place 0, finally docked in Brunswick Sq. Twenty minutes cycling when it should have been less than ten and still 10 minutes from home. Win some loose some, next time I will check the docking spaces online first.
    I can see the desirability of having lots of bikes near stations ready for the morning rush but 0 docking places in the late evening is not a good idea, what if I was hoping to catch a train at Kings Cross. Its a computationally hard problem to solve, and these are early days but having spare spaces at the end of a journey is as important as finding a bike at the start, the systems fails unless there is confidence that bikes can flow freely and be unencumbered.

  33. Jim 10/08/2010 at 6:30 pm #

    Diary of a Boris Biker – Week 2 (getting better)

    7/8/10 (am) received my morning email from Barclays to tell me my account had been suspended again.  I won’t need a bike over the weekend so I’ll wait until monday morning to call the help line again.  No doubt if I call today I’ll only get another email tomorrow morning.

    9/8/10 (am) called help line and reactivated my account, again.  Got to Kingscross couldn’t get the first bike out I tried, this is shaping up to be a good start what was already going to be a stressful day.  Anyway tried another bike from same dock and was successful.  Rode to Red Lion Square.

    Got bike from Holborn to Leicester Square only to find that the iPhone app I have for this scheme is not as accurate as I thought.  There is no docking station on St Martins Lane and the one on Little Newport Lane is still a twinkle in Borris’ eye.  Eventually found a dock on William IV street, hopefully within the half hour but then how do you tell?

    9/8/10 (pm) got bike from William IV street for homward journey.  Managed to get last vacant dock on Pancras Road after going to Belgrove Street and St Chads St which were both full at 6pm.  I eagerly await my email tomorrow morning telling me my account has been suspended.

    10/8/10 (am) – Didn’t get my email this morning telling me my account had been suspended… just as I work the system out they change it on me :-). Anyway being a paranoid fellow who generally doesn’t believe in good luck I log on to check my account but it doesn’t accept my password this happened a couple of times last week. So I call the help line to check my good luck and sure enough my account is active, yipee.  But they tell me to change my password, I hope this doesn’t happen too man times I’m running out of farm animals to use for passwords.

    10/8/10 (am) – Raining hard so decided tune was the sensible option.

    10/8/10 (late am) – Meeting at London Bridge picked up bike from William IV street rode to Druid Street all in working order.

    10/8/10 (early pm) – Picked bike just off Bermondsey St found my first damaged bike it has a wonky peddle.  Return bike to Druids St and touch red button, not sure this wise will Boris try and pick my pocket again?  Call help line to see how long I should wait before getting another bike and to make sure I’m not charged for damage. Message Monkey offers to take my details and get someone to call me… not much use there then especially since I’m still waiting for them to call me back from over a week ago.  Decide to be brave and just get another bike.  Enjoyed ride back to William IV St especially as I kept up with Merc Brabus most of way along Southbank.

    10/8/10 (pm) – Rode from William IV street to Kingscross again no docks available at Belgrove Street or St Chads St so again had to ride to Pancras Road dock, is this the new congestion!!?

    • Geoff V 10/08/2010 at 10:23 pm #

      Saga Continues from above.

      After 9 successive days of being suspended, calling them and being unsupended and then being resuspended again the next morning announced by an early morning email eventually I get hold of my 14th different call centre agent who takes pity on me and eventually puts in a fix that seems to have worked. Success! I have now gone two days in a row now without suspension.

      Then the payback. I check my cc statement. Not only have they not refunded my CC with the charge of £150 they made on Day 2 as promised they have today taken two further lots of £150! OMG. They now have £450 of my money. I could cry.

      • Sam C 11/08/2010 at 8:50 am #

        Yep as my desperate calls to customers services reached a new level they also “fixed” my account, no daily suspension for… a day! Hurrah!

        But actually I didn’t have cause to use the bikes on that special day, and today even worse, my account is active, it’s not letting me take bikes, and **horror** doesn’t have my last journey listed, which usually means it hasn’t registered the return of bike (and I always check for green light) so presumably another 150 quid being sucked off my credit card as we speak.

        Sigh…

      • Dawn 11/08/2010 at 9:15 am #

        You’re having such bad luck. I’m not surprised you could cry. I think a few others on here might join you too!

        However, there is hope as an email arrived this morning ….

        “We are writing to inform you that we have identified that a small number of our customers have been incorrectly billed over the last 24 hours. In certain circumstances customers have been overcharged by the billing system, and we understand that your account has been affected.

        We are now in the process of reimbursing you for this error on our part, and these funds will be passed back to your account as soon as possible this week.

        We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the inconvenience that this may cause you, and to assure you that we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that this will not happen again in the future.”

        So fingers crossed for you!

        TFL are trying very hard to do their best to get it sorted but as the other cyclist wrote, it took time to get the system to work smoothly in his city and I guess it’ll be the same here. More problems anticipated when it’s open to non-members in a couple of weeks though!

        Horseferry Road docking stations all taped off this morning as well as the tower. Boo.

        • Andreas 12/08/2010 at 9:52 am #

          Good to see the problem is been acknowledged. I saw on the BBC report last night about the email and about the problems people have been having.

  34. Lee 11/08/2010 at 2:56 pm #

    I think the Boris Bike is a great idea but arrive in Waterloo after 8.30am and you won’t find a single bike at any of the docking stations around Waterloo.

    Arrive at Waterloo later in the evening and guess what not a single available docking station to park the bike.

    I’ve had the standard teething problems such as card not unlocking the bike and 25 minutes on helpline without actually receiving any help but arriving to find no bikes somewhat spoils my planned trip to work. It almost feels like my tube line is suspended.

    Fingers crossed they’ll address the shortage in certain areas.

    Cheers.

  35. Dave 11/08/2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Similar issues to others – I upgraded my initial 24-hour access period to an annual one. Went out to get a bike after work, got the red light on several bikes. Now left 5 messages in separate calls with customer ‘care'; no reply to any of them received back yet. Tried other bike stations but still the red light.

    And, guess what, my annual account was still activated when I tried to get that first bike, even though the light was red.

    Most annoying thing is the total lack of customer service – simply taking a message at the ‘overflow call centre’ and then not calling back is pathetic – some open honesty about problems and realistic response times would on their website would at least users understand what’s going on and the teething problems that BCH are dealing with.

    In the meantime I sulk on the Circle Line!

    • djc 11/08/2010 at 5:48 pm #

      I would make one change to the call centre: remove that overlong spiel about the scheme and get straight to the options. Then people phoning with problems would not be pissed off listening to the ad before they even got to 1. sign up, 2. problems with billing … 4 other problems.
      And putting a service update on the web page would be a good idea, might save them a lot of calls to the call centre.
      Yesterday was a good day however, plenty of bikes in Gower Pl at 22:30, spaces to park in Ampton Str less than 6 minutes later. Office chair to supper table in 15 minutes.

  36. LukasPop 12/08/2010 at 10:49 am #

    GEARING on the bikes themselves: Has no-one else noticed how absurdly low the gearing is? or is it just me?

    the 1st gear is so totally useless and should be up around 2nd. I’ve been riding around pretty much entirely in 3rd and still feel like i’m spinning loads at low speed.

    • Rory 12/08/2010 at 10:51 am #

      Yeah – me too.

      However, I can see they don’t want tourists doing high speeds around central London

    • James R Grinter 12/08/2010 at 11:36 am #

      The gearing is low, but it feels no different to a bike I recently rode around Amsterdam on. It wasn’t a ‘tourist’ bike either, just a standard Workcycles “City bike” model with the same Shimano Nexus hub gear set.

      5-6mph is a good speed for pottering around central London’s back streets, really, and I think those of us who are more regular cyclists need to understand that the bike hire scheme isn’t really aimed at us – we’re expected to be cycling into town and using our own bikes most of the time. I think you’ll find that less strong cyclists actually prefer the combination of 1st and 2nd, with the speed that gives them, to the 2nd/3rd or just 3rd that we may find ourselves using. (When I’ve borrowed hub-geared Bromptons in the past, I always found them too low for my liking, but my usual ride is a substantially higher geared tourer.)

      I also think that the same goes for commuters – those who are complaining already that there aren’t enough bikes around the morning and evening peak rush need to realise that there’s no way there ever could be sufficient hire bikes, it just wouldn’t be economical to have them sat around idle for so much of the day and all for just £45/year. We need more in-town cycle parking everywhere as well as the cycle hire stands.

  37. Jim 12/08/2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Diary of a Boris Biker

    11/8/10 (am) arrived at Belgrove St to find one of Barclays trucks handing out bikes as people arrived I’m response to the demand for bikes in the Kingscross area.  Picked up bike and rode to William IV St.  With things running smoothly on the bike front I now have a bit more time explore my route in to work trying to find anyway that avoids traffic lights, buses and pot holes.   Last night I read about someone who was getting print outs of their journeys at each do king station but I could figure out how to do it and the help line could help either.

    11/8/10 (lunch time) with my new found confidence in Boris’ bike have decided to see where I can go for lunch rather than trog down to Pret.  End up on Embankment in a little park very nice.

    11/8/10 (pm) – Although It appears dome thought has been given to the availability of bikes in the morning we still have a problem with congestion at docks in the evening again I get the last space at the Pancras Rd dock.  I realy should figure out how to extend the free hire period as I’m sure I’ll get court  out sooner or later.

    12/8/10 – Everything running fine until tonight.  Managed to get a space on Belgrove St (probably because not many people using bikes due to rain) anyway I didn’t see the green light come on when I docked so I called the help line to make sure they knew the situation.  Unfortunately they are experiencing high call volumes, as usual.  Anyway eventually got through to message monkey who takes my details including bike number and location promising that someone will call me back!!? There goes another £150!

    • Dawn 13/08/2010 at 8:28 am #

      Jim.
      To get a print out of your journey, press the screen on the “tower” (what do they call that stand?) and it gives you the option of Print Your Journey. You put your key in the slot – Barclays face up – and print the journey you want. It shows about 8 of your most recent journeys on the screen. I’ve been caught a couple of times when it’s run out of paper but otherwise, it’s a good record.

  38. Jim 13/08/2010 at 8:18 am #

    Diary of a Boris Biker – The Honeymoon is over… such that it was

    13/8/10 (am) – Finally worked up the energy to reset my Barclays Cycle Hire account password for the, erm forgotten how many times now, anyway did it. Only to see that despite numerous phone calls, promises of refund forms being raised and commitments to call me back on the matter £150 HAS been taken from my account. So called the help line and spoke to “Carl” who was very appologetic, confiremed they had a full history of my numerous calls etc. things were going well, if you can say that, until he then suggested he would take my details and get someone to call me back… I’ve been here before I think. So given TfL’s / Barclays performance to date in the we’ll call you back stakes I feel I have no choice I think we are going to court. I’ve never been to court but I’m thinking its a small claims court issue does anyone have any advice?

  39. Jim 13/08/2010 at 8:19 am #

    Diary of a Boris Biker – The £150

    I should add that the £150 is the original £150 from two weeks ago and nothing to do with last nights docking problem which I believe is resolved, the bike did dock ok.

  40. Dawn 13/08/2010 at 8:33 am #

    Money, money, money! TFL have CREDITED my cc account with the duplicate annual membership fee they took in error. They also phoned me on Wednesday to say it would be happening.

    I suggest you all check your accounts again this morning as they must be starting all the repayments this week.

    Having only had success in getting a BB on Monday morning from Waterloo this week, I brought my own bike this morning. I have to say riding over the cobbly bits of the roads was a lot more comfortable!

  41. Jim 13/08/2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Diary of a Boris Biker – Gob Smacked

    I’ve waited, its seems longer, 1-week 4 days and a number of hours but today I actually got a call back from who ever it is running the hire scheme. Not only that but “Olivia”, sounded very sweet, told me my £150 would be refunded, yipee I believe in Boris again!….

  42. Matt 13/08/2010 at 2:41 pm #

    I walk between London Bridge and Liverpool street and would definitely use this scheme every day if they had a docking station in London Bridge, I have no idea why they don’t.

    They have one in Southwark bridge road, but seems a bit out of the way to make me want to rush and sign up.

    Anyone got any idea if they are planning more docking stations ?

    Matt.

    • Geoff V 10/09/2010 at 8:31 am #

      Matt – whilst there is a need at London Bridge for a massive docking station, say 100 + bikes and the same for Kings Cross and Waterloo, the problem is that we need more docking stations all over town. Getting hold of a bike in the morning might be one challenge but finding a convenient place to dock in the City at the moment is becoming a real issue. Around St Paul’s and Cheapside for example there are 5 DS which are constantly full during the day. I have also given up riding home to Kings Cross on the basis that I cant dock the bike when I get there.

      • Dawn S 10/09/2010 at 9:11 am #

        Could I just make a point in favour of the bikes and Waterloo Station?

        I’ve used the bikes every day this week apart from today when I brought my own. The tfl workers have about 150 bikes under careful watch besides the stands and as soon as a bike is hired, they replace it with another. At the end of the day, the opposite happens. As soon as a bike is safely docked, the tfl workers remove it freeing up docking stations for the next bikes.
        I dont know how long the tfl workers are there, but they are doing a great job at Waterloo. Maybe this is one of the things Boris is evaluating to use similar systems at other mainline stations before the scheme is open to the general public?

        Docking stations within the Square Mile is obviously another problem that needs addressing.

  43. Romi 16/08/2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Well l am not impressed at all. Two keys and they both not working, wait for 15 min on the phone and all the they do is taking details and someone will call back, 2nd week and not a single call. I missed an important meeting and 4 times late for work and I am on the last worning . I give London cycle hire and TFL 0/10 .

  44. annawantstocycle 16/08/2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I’ve been trying to sign up online for the past two weeks and the website never works for me. i’ve tried on a variety of computers, via different browsers. anyone have any tips for getting signed up?

    • annmucc 17/08/2010 at 8:27 am #

      Call them!
      That’s what I had to do, and when I did they told me I should have called when I first had problems. If e.g. someone else has already registered in your house you will not be able to register at all! That was my problem
      GL!
      I’m enjoying it!

      • annawantstocycle 17/08/2010 at 12:35 pm #

        thanks so much! i’ll give it a go. now to find the pesky phone number….

  45. DdT 20/08/2010 at 1:20 pm #

    I had a bit of a shocker. Took a bike from Soho to a client meeting in Holborn. All stations were full at not less than 6 locations. Ended up having to dock in Farringdon and get a cab back to Holborn – late for the meeting and ended up costing me more money! Great scheme but needs more docking stations in central London. 4 other people were having the same problem at the same time!

  46. vintage55 02/09/2010 at 2:06 pm #

    First experience today.
    But the logistics simply don’t work – or at least weren’t today. For me, a ten-minute bike ride from Waterloo to Lincoln’s Inn ended in a twenty-minute route schlepp around six docking stations in the Holborn/Covent Garden vicinity trying to find a vacant slot! And panicking because I was running late for a meeting.
    Also the gearing is pathetically low. How about five gears?
    Overall it should be a great scheme though. Hopefully these things will be sorted

  47. Martin Vickers 02/09/2010 at 5:49 pm #

    I don’t understand how anyone tolerates this scheme. There are very few bike stands compounded by the problem that they are either full or empty. Any stand in that condition (and that’s most) is worthless. I paid 45 quid for this rubbish too. Why not follow Paris which boasts 3 times as many stands? Good ol’ British cheep skatery, I suspect.

    Mift, moi? not half!

  48. girlandsteed 20/09/2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I’ve had no problems so far except the green light not going on when I docked it. I rang the number on the info board (the 0208 one, which is in smaller letters and below and thus far less expensive) and they were quick and helpful. I’ve written a blog about the illicit thrill of cheating on my real bike:
    http://thetrustysteed.blogspot.com/2010/09/committing-adultery-with-boris.html

  49. Jim 15/11/2010 at 6:01 pm #

    Diary of a Boris Biker – Where did all the bikes go?

    It’s been smooth sailing for the past couple of months obtaining and returning bikes has been almost effortless in fact as I leave the bike safely docked at the end of each journey I can’t help feeling uneasy as surely nothing can be this simple.

    However, just recently I’ve had some trouble getting a bike in the mornings from Kingscross. Whereas there would normally be a store of bikes leaning on the wall by the Belgrove St. Dock waiting to top up the dock as the steady flow of bikers arrived in the morning there have been no bikes scalable recently. At first I wondered if major road works elsewhere ha prevented the trailers getting to Kimgscross a regularly as required but it’s two weeks now and every morning anytime between 7 and 8:30 there are no bikes… Where have all the bikes gone?

  50. Kathryn @ Lancaster 4G Wireless 20/01/2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Hello, just doing some browsing for my Lancaster 4g website. Amazing the amount of information on the web. Not what I was looking for, but nice site. Have a great day.

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