Sneak peek inside the new Cycle Hire app

At the critical mass ride a couple of weeks ago I got a chance to speak with Alex who is developing the London Cycle Hire app. He told me how he built the application on his train commute into work just to use it as a bit of a case study for work. I was pleased to hear he already had a working version and I had a play around with it.

The Cycle Hire app will be available for free and be possible to use both on the iPhone and on the iPod Touch. Obviously with the iPod Touch having slightly more limited functionality.

Within the application you will be able to locate bikes either using the GPS, near London’s stations or near a popular London attraction. I like the simple interface and the icons Alex has created. Apparently he simply drew them out on a piece of paper and scanned them in.

Another cool function that Alex is adding is details of each station and how many bikes are available. This will stop you walking over to a station just to discover there are no bikes.

Apparently he has already been contacted by TfL who are very interested in the app and how it is progressing. All we need to do now is wait for the Cycle Hire scheme to “go live” on the 30th of July.

Screenshots of the Cycle Hire app

initial view inside the cycle hire appdifferent ways to find bikes information about cycle hire locations 

What about us non-iPhone users?

On Friday night I cycled over to Notting Hill for a few beers. On the table everyone had their phones laid out. There was a 50/50 split between iPhones and Blackberry’s. We soon proceeded to show off what apps we had downloaded. My favourite was one girl who had a page simply for her boyfriend with all the seedy apps!

But what about all the non-iPhone users out there? Well, I’ve currently not heard anything about any kind of Blackberry or Android app. However, this would clearly make sense for someone to develop. If you hear anything about an app in development then let me know.

In the mean time, head over to the Cycle Hire app website and sign up to their mail list to be told when the app becomes available.

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9 Responses to Sneak peek inside the new Cycle Hire app

  1. Alex 13/04/2010 at 11:07 am #

    Thanks, for writing about this 🙂

    For Android phones, there’s already a cycle hire app called ‘Veloid’ () that covers many cycle hire schemes around the world. I suggest contacting the developers of this app at and asking to include London in their app (it looks they tried to include the now-defunct OYbike system).

    I’ve never built Blackberry apps so I’m not sure how complicated it would be to make one and if I’ll ever have the time. But I’ll see if I can at least get the cycle locations to show up on a Blackberry using the Google Maps application.

    Alex @ Cycle Hire app

    • Alex 13/04/2010 at 11:08 am #

      Forgot to include the link to Veloid in the comment above:

    • Andreas 13/04/2010 at 11:10 am #

      Thanks Alex and thanks for providing London with a good app to find their nearest cycle hire. I can’t wait for end of July!

  2. Adrian 13/04/2010 at 3:49 pm #

    I presume that all the locations will be uploaded to google maps, so us blackberry users will be able to look up locations using the google maps app. It won’t have all the bells and whistles of the iphone map but it will prob be good enough for most people….

  3. Leon 15/07/2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Alex’s app looks interesting, but seems like it’s designed more for tourists than the daily bike share user. I expect he will redesign parts of the app once the system launches and he learns how people are using it.

    Eager/curious iPhone users should check out another app that’s been out for over a year now called ‘Bixou’. It looks to me like a more mature app, with tried and tested features. For example, instead of repeating a redundant icon for each station, its information display shows you how full or empty each station is, so you litterally see where there are bikes, rather than having to click on a station to find out.

    I think it’s from Montreal, where the BIXI system was created, but I use it in Minneapolis, where the NiceRide system was just launched. It currently works with every BIXI system in the world, and will likely include London’s when the cycle hire scheme goes live.

    • Alexander 21/07/2010 at 9:30 pm #

      Hi Leon,

      Thanks for your comment, I’ve tried the Bixou app and while I’m not 100% convinced of its way of showing empty/full stations, this is something I’m aiming to do in the future – for example by changing the colour or icon depending on bike availability.

      My day job is to design apps & websites and gauge people’s reactions to them, so I’m really looking forward to learning from users on this instance as well.


  4. Mariela Cratty 26/07/2010 at 5:58 pm #

    You have some excellent points there. I did a research about the topic and wanted to say that I noticed that just about all bloggers will agree with your post.

  5. Christoph 09/08/2010 at 6:58 pm #

    For me “Spotcycle” works great on Blackberry – it only lacks a map. But I just say find stations nearby, it checks via GPS where I am, and I get a list with distance to all stations. Only pity is then that I need to figure out into which direction that station might be… fortunately google maps can help most of the time here if I don’t know the area.

  6. boon 23/08/2010 at 9:55 pm #

    I’m a little late, but ( will work on any mobile device with a web browser, and it does have maps, bicycle availability graphs, and the ability to search for stations based on tube stations and postcodes.

    plus, it’s super fast and snappy, making it perfect for smaller devices and in areas with less-than-perfect network speeds.

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