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Should You Register For The Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme?

BY Boon Koh
Published 30 July 2010

This is Boris Johnson’s baby, and just about the only exciting and good news to have hit London in recent times. With all the doom and gloom about David Cameron wielding a large and far reaching public spending axe, bankers still getting lots of bonuses, and new tube trains breaking down in rush hour, we Londoners do deserve some good news!

A environmentally friendly bike hire scheme is coming to London (finally), copying our rivals across the channel who saw the vision years ago of congestion free city roads and the benefits of increased cycling. As a (occasional) bike cycler to work myself, I have experienced first hand the monetary savings (around £100 a month) from biking from home to work and back, increased fitness (I no longer pant for breath after doing the killer stretch up to Highbury & Islington Station), and going in to work highly alert and ready to tackle anything to be thrown at me.

The Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is set to officially start tomorrow. You might have seen the rash of construction going on in the last few weeks to install all the shiny new bicycle docking stations across zone 1 in London, with the iconic pillar with a blue logo visible hundreds of meters down the street. Or today seen bikes being installed into the docking stations. Over 300 of the 400 planned docking stations have already been built, with 5,000 of the initial stock of 6,000 have already been installed, and the system is going live at 6am on Friday 30th July.

> But should you sign up for the membership to this scheme?

However, only those who have already signed up for membership and received their key fob through the mail. Registration for the membership had cost £3, although if you wait until next month, you can make use of the pay-as-you-go scheme where all you will need to do is swipe a credit card at the docking station terminal to hire a bike. Over 11,000 people have signed up for the membership already, a small drop in the 7 million plus Londoners, but still an encouraging start for a new scheme like this Barclays Cycle Hire.

> But what does it all cost?

The membership costs £3 to cover the cost of the key fob, which you will need whenever you want to rent one of the bicycles. The first 30 minutes of any hire is free, but if you want to hire for 24 hours it is £1, 7 days for £3, and £45 for an annual membership. Not too bad a price, especially if you plan to use it regularly either as part of your commute to work or as another mode of transport when you’re out and about London. Plus the free 30 minutes is really appealing, given that you have to return the bike to a docking station and all the docking stations are almost within zone 1. Plus the bikes are really heavy, and if you manage to last more than half an hour on one of those without breaking a sweat… why, you should try out for the London Olympics 2012 cycling team!

> Verdict?

As a bike owner myself, these Barclays Cycle Hire bikes will never replace my own for getting to work and back, simply because these are much more heavy and require alot more effort. However, there are times when I go to central London by public transport, and if there are convenient docking stations for the last leg of my journey, I would make an effort to get on one of these bikes, especially since any journey below 30 minutes are free.

I won’t be registering for a key fob now, but will probably use the hire scheme on a pay as you go model with a credit card when needed. But if you live quite far from your Tube or bus stop (or your work place is a good walk from them), you should check out TfL’s map of docking stations and bicycle locations, to see if you can cut short your time to work!

  • http://thelondoneer.blogspot.com The Londoneer

    As I said on my blog, I think it’s probably worth waiting until they ironed out the inevitable teething troubles the system is bound to have in its first few months – I wouldn’t want to be handed a £300 bill and then have to find a way to prove that I’d put a bike back in the rack…

  • mark

    i’m sorry, the informatoin on this bloog is very misleading

    “The first 30 minutes of any hire is free, but if you want to hire for 24 hours it is £1, 7 days for £3, and £45 for an annual membership”

    Actually, to be eligible for the 30 minutes free, you have to pay the charges listed – ie the membership charges (as above) AND then a usage charge – the first 30 mins being free, and then rising sharply after that.

    Therefore the first 30 mins is never free – only ever included as part of your daily / weekly / annual subscription.

  • Mark

    ^What Mark said, extremely misleading figures here. Plus some plain wrong figures as well – the 7 day access fee is £5, not £3.

  • Matthew Brand

    I want to use it when the tube strike is on.

    Do I need to sign up on the website or can I just swipe my credit card and take a bike without signing up first?

    If I get a bike and redock it within half an hour then will it cost me just £1? I.e. what they call the “24 hour access fee”?

    What happens if there are no free slots when I want to put the bike back? Some of them are pretty jammed! Do I have to keep cycling around dripping in sweat (and paying for it!!!) looking for a free slot and wishing I had drove instead?