Barclays Cycle Hire

Video via the Guardian

The Barclays Cycle Hire bike sharing program debuted in London over the weekend. The system boasts approximately 5,000 bicycles and over 300 docking stations, making it one of the largest in the world (though only a quarter the size of Paris’ Vélib). Charges include an “access fee” of $1.55 per day, $7.80 per week, or $70 per year. In addition to the access fee there is a “usage charge” which begins accruing after the first 30 minutes of use.

Let’s hope the system is successful and that it really benefits the people of London!

Barclays Cycle Hire

9 Responses to “Barclays Cycle Hire”

  • Eddie says:

    Where is a docking station when I need one? How long have I been riding and what sort of tab have I rung up? Should I be this stressed out? Isn’t bicycling supposed to be relaxing?

  • Karl McCracken (twitter: @KarlOnSea) says:

    Those prices work out pretty steep – despite the massive corporate sponsorship from Barclays (greenwash to deflect from banks’ tarnished image?), the London Cycle Hire scheme still works out as one of the world’s most expensive. Bah!

    Oh, and just remember, no-one will call them Barclays Cycle Hire bikes – they’re Boris Bikes, named after London’s mayor…

  • Alan says:


    “Those prices work out pretty steep…”

    Like many bike sharing programs, the system is designed to encourage people to use the bikes for short times (ideally under 30 minutes), dock the bike, then pick up another bike later. Of course, this only works if there are enough docking stations, which appears to be an issue with the London system.

  • Andrew says:

    The Barclay’s bikes use the Bixi system, developed in Quebec and in the process of being quite successfully exported to a number of other cities. I’m especially excited that Toronto will be getting the system in the next year, assuming we can cement 1000 pre-sold memberships before November to get the capital for the operation (sadly not corporately or municipally funded here).

    As for the prices, they’re actually quite reasonable. The much-ballyhooed 30 minute factor is really not an issue, since you can drop off a bike at a station and get another one after 5 minutes (as Alan said, in order to encourage high turnover rates). When you consider that a commuter bike of comparable quality to a Bixi would likely be ~$1000 up front, the $70/yr ($105 in Toronto) ends up being a bit of a bargain when you consider the absence of maintenance/storage/theft issues.

    It is especially a boon for intermodal commuters who take transit from the suburbs into the core, thus eliminating the need to take a folder or some other bike onto the system with them. Really, it’s just another cog in a healthy public transportation system that can mitigate or even eliminate the need to have cars in dense areas.

    Now if Toronto can just adopt London’s congestion charges in the mix, too…

  • Tali says:

    Looking forward to giving these a go next time I take the train to London. I had a great time on the Velibs in Paris.

  • dan says:

    Having used the b-cycles in Denver, I think the 30-min free scheme works really well, even in Denver which is a much smaller system than London’s. It can be a bit inconvenient if there is not a station near your destination, but it’s still much better than no cycle hire system at all!

  • Ted says:

    My daughter and her boyfriend are visiting Minneapolis and the of us used the Nice Ride bikes (bixi) to get around and do some touring on Friday. It was enjoyed by all. The big issue, as mentioned several times in the video, was finding a docking station. We rode for around an hour total with a break to tour the Guthrie theater half way through. But we had difficulty locating the docking station near the Guthrie and ended up spending about a dollar each because of the overrun

  • Alan says:

    There are a few iPhone apps designed to help users locate London’s docking stations:


  • Doug R. says:

    It is a start, but really needs refinement!

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