Delays to the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme

Alongside with today’s Cycle Superhighway launch Boris also pointed out to everyone that from the 23 of July you’ll be able to register for membership of the cycle hire scheme from:

The bad news is that unless you register you won’t be able to use the bikes for another month. The reason given is that “This will enable TfL and its contractor, Serco, to understand and learn from how pioneer members engage with the scheme, including patterns of bicycle usage.”

In order to use the scheme when it launches on the 30th of July, you’ll have to have a Cycle Hire Key and it will need to be activated.

TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, David Brown said: “Barclays Cycle Hire will revolutionise how we get around central London.  Building on the experience of other cities who have launched similar schemes, we and Serco will use the first month of operation to learn more about how Londoners engage with the scheme, including patterns of use, how we can best support customers and to enable the scheme to bed down."

A membership key costs £3 with membership costs at £1 for a 24 hour membership, £5 for seven days and £45 for an annual membership.  The first 30 minutes of any journey will be free.

This is a delay for the scheme and will mean a lot of people that have eagerly been waiting to try it out will have to wait another month. It’s not very impressive to hear about this now and it’s also a bit of a strange reason that has been given.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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9 Responses to Delays to the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme

  1. Gareth williams 19/07/2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I think the reason is valid. The time period could be halfed but I stand by the decision on this and I will be apply for my subscription on the 23rd

    • Andreas 19/07/2010 at 2:16 pm #

      But Gareth surely you’ll be learning the habits of just the subscribers? The learnings will be useless when you factor in all the new people who don’t want to subscribe and want to simply turn up and hire a bike. Anyway, I don’t claim to be a “logistics expert” seen as I’ve never launched a 6,000 bike cycle hire scheme before so we’ll see!

  2. Jim 19/07/2010 at 4:48 pm #

    A cynic might suggest they’d like to keep tourists and non-‘serious’ cyclists off the bikes in the first month to minimise the number of serious accidents while the media are still paying attention …

  3. Jai 19/07/2010 at 5:21 pm #

    This mode of transport would be great for me. £45 per year sounds reasonable to me. But I am already worried about the number of bikes available at each centre.. Say there are only 4-8 bikes available near my home, it might be ok. But I work near mansion house and I saw only a handful of bikes may be 6. Dont know if these are sufficient as I am quite sure there will be people quite a number of people to use them.

    Bank is popular destination for interchange, if all the cycles from mansion house are taken away to be deposited at bank, should one wait until any one chooses to bring a bike back to mansion house or is there any switching service done by the the TFL guys on the back end?

  4. tomtom 20/07/2010 at 9:00 am #

    lol @ Jim, you might be on to something there!

    @Jai, I have read that there are supposed to be volunteers who are going to redistribute bikes throughout the day. I don’t know how effective this will be? In Oslo, they have a couple of flat-bed trucks that re-distribute the bikes during the day. (i.e. take them back up to the top of the hill). The trucks are also equiped with pumps and tools, so they combine the re-distribution with maintenance checks on the bikes, which works quite well.

    As for the actual delay… I don’t know if it is a valid reason, but I suppose they have to start somewhere. I think we should be glad that the scheme is eventually going to be open to tourists and occasional users. There are a number of schemes on the continent where only residents can use the bikes.

  5. Larklander 20/07/2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Other reports suggest that one of the reasons for the delay is that the Mayor and TfL have been in a knock-down drag-out fight with central London borough authorities over the siting of the docking stations — their effect on the appearance of conservation areas, the potential blocking of pedestrian and other access, and so on. This might be why only 300 docking stations have been installed so far when 400 is thought to be the minimum required for the scheme to work — and why the Mayor and TfL have resorted to claiming that they’ll use the first month of limited operations to study how people engage with the scheme. As an argument, it’s a cover-up, but it’s a *good* cover-up!

  6. Filippo Negroni 23/07/2010 at 8:49 am #

    Registered this morning but missed the chance of winning a t-shirt due to sleeping through the wake-up call…

    Happy to be a member though! 🙂

  7. Rae 23/07/2010 at 11:37 am #

    Upon registering, I discovered that the 30 minutes free is not actually the case.

    I was told that in fact, you must return the bicycle within 25 minutes or you will be charged. From my reading of the terms and conditions, it appears to be 30 minutes free so I don’t understand what the phone operator that registered me was talking about.

    Has anyone else heard this bit about it being 25 free minutes instead of 30?

  8. Jayden Maddison 15/06/2011 at 6:00 pm #


    It’s 25mins because you have to wait for 5mins after docking it to change it for a new one for it to still be free.

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