Sunday, 1 August 2010
Bikes for hire
I have seen the new bikes that are available for hire in central London. I saw my first one on Friday on The Strand outside the Royal Courts of Justice. I went up to the rider and asked where he had got his bike only to discover that he was an actor creating footage for a camera nearby. He was very polite but didn’t know where the nearest docking station was. But today on a trip to Columbia Road Flower Market I passed two docking stations in Shoreditch. I also saw two people cycling on the hire bikes going down Brick Lane E1.
There are attendants at the docking stations, giving information and maps. The map I was given is much clearer than the map on the Transport for London website. I can see docking stations that are close to where I go on my work appointments.
I found out that for the first month only registered users can hire the bikes. Registration is £3 and they send you a special key in the post that unlocks the bike. You also have to pay an Access Fee and there are only three rates, 24 hours, 7 days or 1 year. The rates are £1, £5, and £45. But having paid your fee any distance you travel in 30 minutes is free and you can get to a lot of places in Central London in under 30 minutes. If it is under an hour the charge is £1 which is still very reasonable.
The thing is why would I need to use a hire bike? I have a Brompton that I can take on any train, bus and in any building. If I was an experienced cyclist on a trip to London I would use the hire bikes . I do want to have a go and see how they feel when you ride them, so I will have to register or wait until September when casual users can get access.
The Evening Standard are calling the new hire bikes 'Boris Bikes' after our cycling Mayor of London who has been promoting the bikes all week. I think I prefer this name rather than calling them after a high street bank.