London’s about to unveil a bicycle hire scheme, sponsored by Barclay’s. It’s hitting some delays, but nonetheless it will be the 2nd largest urban hire bicycle system after Paris:
“The scheme, vigorously promoted by London‘s mayor Boris Johnson, will eventually see 6,000 bikes parked at 400 “docking stations” spread every 300 metres or so across central London (although the latest in a string of delays means only pre-registered “members” will be able to take out the bikes from a week on Friday [now July 30th], with the wider public only getting their hands on the bikes at the end of next month).”
How it works: “After paying a daily access fee of £1, and providing details of a credit card for the deposit, the first 30 minutes of bike use will be free, although the price escalates rapidly as the clock ticks on (£1 for an hour, £6 for two hours, £35 for six hours).”
Leo Hickman of the Guardian wrote his impressions of using the bike (it’s heaviness and slowness is noted more than once) and that it’s use is mainly for short distance rides to replace a taxi, tube, or bus: “It’s designed for leisurely ambling rather than APD (aggressive pursuit of destination)” like most cyclists in London.
Jon Snow, presenter of Channel 4 News and president of CTC, the National Cyclists’ Organisation also referred to the bike’s cumbersomeness in this FT article: “Let’s be honest. It is clunky – not unsmart, but not elegant either. The bike weighs in at an alarming 23kg… made the mistake of cycling to my rendezvous with what is bound to become known as the “BorisBike”, on my own lightweight titanium-framed Condor crossbreed. The contrast was stark and not to be recommended.”
He concludes with the question we’re all wondering ourselves: “[W]ill Barclays’ £25m over five years in sponsorship look like a joke or a snip? Using the BorisBike, I suspect, will become rather like flying Ryanair. If you stick to the rules, it will work for you. If you don’t, you could find unexpectedly large sums turning up on your credit card bill. Indeed, Transport for London even suggests you go to a proper bike-hire company if you want to cycle in London for hours at a time.”