At 10am this morning, London’s flagship Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme will be opened to non-members, whether Londoners or people visiting the city from Britain or abroad, making it truly “public” transport for the first time, without having to have previously registered.
The widening of the scheme will be accompanied by a road show that will visit the Tower of London tomorrow between 10am and 5pm to show tourists how to use the distinctive navy blue ‘Boris Bikes.’
From today, anyone who has Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card or Visa Electron can visit one of the 350+ docking stations in the centre of the capital and hire a bike.
They will be issued with a five-digit code that will need to be entered on the pad on the docking point, which will have an amber light illuminated while they do so.
Once it turns green, they are free to take a bike. When returning a bike, they will need to ensure that the light turns green to confirm that it has been returned correctly and the hire period terminated.
The bikes are available for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and once access has been purchased, for 24 hours or seven days, the first 30 minutes of a journey is free.
Nearly 2 million journeys have now been made using the scheme since it became operational at the end of July, with an average of 20,000 a day now being undertaken during the week by the scheme’s 108,000 users. That daily usage figure is expected to rise sharply from today with the scheme also open to non-members.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson commented: “Our Barclays Cycle Hire bikes have already become a defining part of the London street scene. Now those who have only watched enviously from the sidelines can join the cycle revolution at the swipe of a card."
TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, David Brown, added; “Barclays Cycle Hire has already changed the way many thousands of people travel around the Capital and we are now able to offer London’s newest form of transport to everyone. Londoners and visitors will now be able to take full advantage of the scheme which has already proven to be terrifically good value.”
Deanna Oppenheimer, Vice-Chair, Global Retail Banking, CEO Western Europe and CEO UK Retail Banking at Barclays, also welcomed the widening of access to the scheme beyond members, saying: "The launch to casual users is a key landmark for Barclays Cycle Hire as it means everyone can now enjoy the many benefits that it provides. We look forward to thousands more Londoners, tourists and visitors becoming involved, as Barclays Cycle Hire continues to transform London."
TfL does underline, however, that membership of the scheme is still be the easiest way to hire a bike and avoid having to queue 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.
If members want 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.
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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.