Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) have this morning announced that the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is to be opened up to non-members from next Friday, 3 December.
The news means that anyone in possession with a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card, whether UK residents or visitors to the country, will be able to use the city’s distinctive navy blue ‘Boris Bikes,’ which only members in possession of an electronic key have had access until now.
The move also brings London into line with Paris, home of the world’s biggest cycle hire scheme, Vélib’, which is open to anyone with a debit or credit card, including tourists.
According to TfL, potential users will be able to follow simple, on-screen instructions to release the bikes, which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with access periods of 24 hours or one week available. Use of the bikes will be free for the first 30 minutes.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, commented: “It is fantastic that the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has not only proved incredibly popular but the system has shown itself to be rigorous and robust.
“Now it has been thoroughly tried and tested by more than a hundred thousand members we are ready for the next stage where anyone who fancies taking to two wheels can do so in an instant with a simple swipe of their card."
TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, David Brown, said; “Barclays Cycle Hire is transforming the way we travel around the capital.
“The scheme is terrifically good value," he added. "Around 95% of all journeys made by Barclays Cycle Hire members have been under 30 minutes, which means that the vast majority of people using the scheme aren’t paying any more than their 24 hour £1, seven day £5 or annual £45 access fees.”
Deanna Oppenheimer, Vice-Chair, Global Retail Banking, CEO Western Europe and CEO UK Retail Banking at Barclays, the scheme’s sponsor, added; “Barclays Cycle Hire is transforming London.
“By opening the scheme to casual users ahead of Christmas we will see thousands more Londoners, tourists and visitors to the capital able to enjoy the benefits that it provides.”
TfL points out that becoming a member of the scheme will still be the quickest way to hire a bike and avoid queueing at docking stations.
To become a member, you have to be a UK resident aged 18 and above – although use of the bikes is open to those aged 14 and over – and pay £4, split between £3 for the membership key and £1 for the first 24-hour access period.
Should members wish to use the scheme on a casual basis – for example, if they have left their membership key at home – they will need to use a credit or debit card other than the one linked to their membership account.
TfL adds that since the scheme became operational on 30 July, more than 100,000 people have signed up as members and in excess of 1.7 million journeys have now been undertaken using the scheme.
To help allay any concerns over security of card details, terminals at the docking stations are being fitted with anti-skimming devices.
Full details of the scheme, which is operated by Serco and is currently focused on Central London, although an expansion into the East of the capital was recently announced, are available on the TfL website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.