Barclays Cycle Hire

When you get a problem with your bike and you can’t use it (like me in these days), you still can’t stop to cycle in London; the bike sharing scheme is working well. I used the scheme, regularly, from January to June for going to work and in my spare time. I started paying the fee by Debit Card(you can use all major credit and debit cards except basic account cards) and getting the bike for 1 day, the minimum rent, paying 1£. With this formula you will have access at all the bikes for 24 hours. The only thing you need to remember is to bring back the bike within half an hour otherwise you will get extra charge. For who is not living in London, I can say that in half an hour you can cover your journey from zone 2 to zone 1 quite easy. Indeed I found very funny when I see a Cycle Hire Bike parked in front of a restaurant and maybe the docking station just behind the corner. Doing this thing are tourists, usually, they did not understand how it works or maybe they don’t care about the extra fee (for a day will be always less than rent a bike from a private company).  However, in my opinion, I don’t think the tourist is the main user of the scheme:it could be a pleasure cycling in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and some other peaceable area, but the streets in London are narrow and in rush hours could be dangerous moreover if you don’t know your route and you need to bring back the bike but you can’t find a docking station( that’s a nightmare…). There is another category of casual user: Londoners are using the system in the weekends. In fact it could be pleasant taking a ride by bike despite by car in your city, enjoy a nice weather and discover hidden places of the town (this one is reachable easily).

Ok but, I would like to talk how it is using the system as regular user that is what I have done for six months. After a trial period I decided to take the key and buy the annual membership: 45 £ plus 3 £ for the key that is connected with my bank account that is charged once a month if I got extra fee. With the key catching the bike is ten times faster than doing the process with Cards at the totem: I just need to insert the key in the docking point of the bike I choose, and when the light turn green I can get it. Now a useful tip: it is not necessary pull out the bike with every energy of our body and sometimes be hit from the pedal on our knees, we just need to lift the rear wheel and the bike will pop out from the hook. The difference in the use is notable with the key: I have had a day when I needed to go in different places in short periods of time and I catch 10 different bikes sometimes just for 5 minutes. Doing this as a casual member become a little more tricky because you need to insert your debit card in the totem two times confirming the authorization, getting a sheet with a code (sometimes there are totem out of paper), digiting the code on the docking station of the bike (sometimes the pad is ruined) and finally get the bike.

The important question is: how is it using the scheme as regular for going to work? Well…it’s not the best but it’s better than the other public transport. Obviously I am talking for myself, for my situation and my needs and if you live in another zone or you need to go to work not in zone 1 could be different. Anyway I am living in East  London in zone 2 and I am working in zone 1,exactly 3,7 miles. If I catch the bus that is passing just in front of my house and is stopping very close to my workplace I will put between 35 minutes and 50(from door to door) depends at what time I need to go to work and if I wait for the bus or not. Taking the tube might be faster but not always because the closer station is 8 minutes by walk, the journey is around 15-20 minutes but in the rush hours sometimes the carriages are so crowded that you can not get on and need to wait for another or another one. So it could be 30 minutes. On the bus is easier finding a seat. If you are thinking in that time you can do a lot of thing you can’t do when you are cycling is true but you know how it takes me by bike? Using the cycle hire scheme 25 minutes on average.

Talking about costs:by bike the round trip is 1 £, the weekly cost is 5 £, the annual membership 45 £, by bus is 2.70 £, the weekly is £ 18,80, annual 752 £, by tube 5.40 £, 29.20 £, 1168 £ !!!!!

I think I don’t need to comment the figures as we know time and costs are ones of the most important things nowadays moreover in London. The city is also famous for frequent rains but I must explode the myth: it’s never rain all day, usually it’s just for 10 minutes maybe it happens again after an hour but often is not so heavy to avoid cycling. One of the thing that I appreciate most of the scheme is that I can choose: I can choose to take the bike in the morning but when I am going back I could take bus or tube because is raining heavy, I would like to talk with a friend that I’ve met or I bought a big thing that I can’t bring on the bike. Also in the evening it happens to go out in the West End but on the way back the tube is already close and waiting a bus could be a long waiting, by bike always the same time.

Cycling in London is a sort of feeling freedom, a way for feeling the city on our side and discovering what we like in it.

The bike Sharing is a very nice idea and the one we have in London is one of the most efficient with more than 10 thousands bikes and a capillarity of stations that allows to walk from one to another in 5 minutes by walk. that is very important because in the rush hour it happens that is difficult to find a bike or is easy to find the docking station full. There are two trends: the one in the morning is to find empty docking station in zone 2 and full in Central London because people going to work from zone 2 to the centre; in the evening the situation is reversed. There are some tools available online (on the website a map with all the stations and the situation of free spaces for parking and availability of bikes), in loco on the totem with the situation of the nearby stations and an allowance of 15 minutes if the stations is full. This is could be not enough when I can’t go on internet and all stations displayed on the totem have the same situation. There are trucks that are travelling around the city getting on or back bikes but is not the most efficient way.

I think the best solution could be to build 5 big stations(such as deposits) in strategic place of the city where a costumer service allows to take or get back a bike to everyone.

The website of Barclays Cicle Hire