back to article London bike hire scheme suffers pre-launch wobbles

Anyone wishing to use one of Boris's hire bikes from next week will need a UK address registered with a credit card company in order to pre-register because the 'casual use' system has been delayed. Londoners - and visitors to the smoke - will be be able to hire push bikes across the centre of the capital under the scheme. In …

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FAIL

buh...

"In order to use one of the bikes you must first register online with a UK credit or debit card address. Then you receive a magic key through the post, in exchange for £3. Then you pay a £1 a day to access the scheme and then pay again to hire the bike - charges start at £1 for an hour, although the first 30 minutes are free."

What a load of faff.

"Then you pay a £1 a day to access the scheme and then pay again to hire the bike "

Access the scheme? Wait a minute, that's 30 quid a month! 365 quid a year just to be able to pay to hire a bike for a quid an hour!

Are they fucking kidding? What's that you say? They're not kidding.......oh.

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Boffin

read conditions first

You can hire for £1 per day, or £5 per week, or £45 per year. The fist 30 minutes of any journey are free, and having paid your £1/5/45 you can make as many journeys as you want. It might work.

But then, couldn't register today as the article notes.

I don't like giving my debit card details to people to hold on file (I no longer buy from Amazon for that reason), and despite publicity material to the contrary there is no direct debit option (Which at least as more control than ceeding a 'continuing authority' on a card account.

And the map on the website does not show the hire locations, still less a live update of bike availability. I know where all the local docking stations are, I walk past them every day, to use the scheme I need to know where to put it at the destination.

It might work, if the bikes stay unvandalised and available. I will wait and see.

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Anonymous Coward

£45 per year

If you'd done some research you'd have found out that membership costs are £1 per day, £5 per week or £45 per year.

True, this information should have been in the article but anyone with common sense should have assumed that some form of discount would be available and looked it up.

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Paris Hilton

If it's like Barcelona's bike hire scheme

Then it'll have a bit of trouble working out if you've actually returned the bike or not (meaning you get fined when you shouldn't) and the bikes get constantly smashed up or stolen meaning it's a money pit for the city council. It was going to be expanded to greater Barcelona but then they realised they didn't have the money.

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WTF?

You WHAT?!?

"Then you receive a magic key, an RFID chip, through the post, in exchange for £3. Then you pay a £1 a day to access the scheme and then pay again to hire the bike - charges start at £1 for an hour, although the first 30 minutes are free."

So if you were in this scheme for a year and NEVER USED A BIKE, it'd cost you £368?!? I'm sorry, but Boris can fuck right off. You can buy a cheap bike from Tesco for like £60 ffs.

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WTF?

Technology

It sounds to me like the high cost is there to pay for the ridiculous technology being used to handle the payments.

Talk about cyclical dependency. Sheesh.

And why the f*ck isn't the Oyster card system involved?

That's an obvious infrastructure right there.

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Aaand... breathe.

Before you start making yourself look like a Daily Mail commentard...

It is £1 per day that you use the scheme. So if you don't use it on a given day, you don't pay.

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FAIL

The costing is silly

I've worked in a Bike shop, and this seems silly. It simply costs too much to use regularly

£1/day works out at £365 a year (not that hard) and if you use it on a weekly basis for only one hour each of those 52 weeks (call it 50 to give you a holiday of sorts). That's a total of £415 *per year*.

You can get a good commuter bike, lock, lights and helmet, all for that money, and if you want use the cycle to work scheme, an amazingly better one (think spending up to £700 in a shop but only paying ~£400 for it). The servicing/maintenance of the bike is not going to cost £400/year unless you ride into brick walls regularly to damage the bike seriously.

I realise some people won't do the maths, but I would only consider this is I could not store a bike inside, and even in London, you can usually find a place to store a bike.

Better yet, improve your balance and get an adrenaline rush by using roller blades (OK, not for most people on the roads, but it can be done). The storage space is minimal.

For tourists this scheme makes sort of sense, but only if you're a 'casual user' which you can't be now. Not sensibly thought out. Reminds me of oyster cards that initially on PAYG would never activate to a travelcard automatically (I know they do now), which also did not seem sensibly thought out

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Anonymous Coward

For that money...

... I'd buy a Brompton.

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Grenade

Re: For that money...

....I'd buy a secondhand scooter.

Proper brakes and lighting, a modicum of splash proofing for the legs in inclement weather and one of those new-fangled internal combustion engines to do the hard work, so I arrive all fresh and relaxed rather than as a clapped out, sweaty wreck.

The real bonus is being able to ride it while dressed sensibly rather than looking like an escapee from a lycra factory run by colour-blind geocities web designers. I swear that if clothing had a <blink> tag, the makers of cycling wear would use it. I'm sure that if you're young and fit it makes sense, but the prospect of moving around while bearing a passing resemblance to a day-glo shrinkwrapped sack of King Edwards leaves me cold.

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FAIL

FAIL!

It never ceases to amaze me how many websites fail on the first day of a "big" launch. I didn't even get as far as entering my card details, it failed at the first page when entering my contact details.

I assumed this was because of high traffic, however 2000 people does not seem like a lot considering a lot of them will be people like me who registered over the phone!

Hire some extra f**ing kit for a couple of weeks when launching a new scheme! grrr

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Stop

"I didn't even get as far as entering my card details"

Please, for the benefit and sanity of everyone else here, can you tell us why you would even want to use this scheme?

Its not because its cheap, because using buses or taxis would likely be cheaper once you factor in a years worth of use.

Its not because its cheaper than owning your own bike, even one of those expensive neat folding jobbies, not at £368 a year even before you get on a bike

Its not because its healthy, because you'll get fit only to be squashed by a bus which I understand is extremely unhealthy

Its not because its convenient because you still have to find somewhere to park the thing, and while you are at your destination, and leave it (assuming you can find somewhere) you are paying for the privilege, like a taxi meter clocking up.

So PLEASE- why?

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Boffin

Returning the bike to a free rack?

Ok i ride the bike out to work then another back to waterloo late in the evening, doh all racks are full, ride to another site, doh all racks are full, ride..... end up back at work in the only free rack i can find and catch a taxi back to waterloo!

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WTF?

Wot, no Oysters?

"TfL has no plans to integrate payments by Oyster card, which covers most of the rest of Transport for London's network, into the system."

Why on earth not? The Oyster set-up already has all sorts of card-related ways to pay, so I'd have thought that installing Oyster readers at the bike stations was a no-brainer. They must be cheap too. Why else would they be fitted but, AFAICT unused, in National Rail stations outside London.

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Silver badge

Why not?

Probably because the readers for the Oyster card are more expensive and/or require different or unique comms gear to approve the transaction. One thing'sfor sure: someone at TfL has decided supporting Oyster involves more work/money than they're willing to put out.

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WTF?

there was a statement

They said it was too expensive, but really, we all have oysters and mine is linked to my debit card which is perfect for this, I'd like to know just why the key is cheaper and by how much, I mean how expensive can an oyster reader be? Every bus has one!

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The snag

I don't see the scheme being successful until

London is more cycle friendly to the novice cyclist, and

the traffic lights and one-way streets don't slow down the more expert cyclist.

I suppose the electric motor will mitigate some of the effort needed to get going again after being stopped by the lights.

For the novice, most Black Cab taxi drivers seem aware and drive safely with cycles about. Buses are big, hard to stop and hard to see all around, so can be a bit of a problem and many bus lanes are coated with speed sapping rough tarmac.

There are many roads parallel to the main arterial routes, that are blocked with one-way systems, but contraflow cycle lanes (or perhaps taxi lanes) could may be remove the need to cycle amongst the cars, vans and lorries.

Some subtle education via small rewards (quicker journey, less pollution) of the cyclists could improve their well being.

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Unhappy

Taxis and buses

I find that Bus drivers are very good at spotting cyclists and keeping out of the way, Taxis on the other hand seem to only care about stopping for a fare and will sweep across in front of you and stop feet from the front of your bike, if you try to then speak to the driver you will be lucky not to be shouted at or hunted down till you lose the cab in traffic.

I even had one put his hands around my neck after I (calmly and in shock) told him he had nearly killed me, even his passenger agreed. This was just a few months ago. I told him I would report him to TfL and he backed off, I wish I had.

That's just my 24 years experience as a cyclist in East, North and Central London. These days I keep the hell away from taxis and their nutjob drivers.

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I agree, a few Taxis are like this

but I've not cycled much recently and I'm a 6 foot bloke, so my perspective might be distorted.

The buses don't try to hit you, they just don't see you, especially bendy buses.

In the past, cars and mini-cabs were the worst, they cannot believe a cycle is faster than a car (in London)

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Anonymous Coward

In Aberdeen, the busses can see cyclists...

...they just don't care about them. They think the bus/cycle lane is for bus use only and sit tight on the back of any cycle that dares to get in front of them. Seen it many a time from both in the bus and on the cycle. Stop because you hit a pothole or someone steps out and the bus squishes you.

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Syd
WTF?

£1 Per Day?

£365 per year? Just to be registered to hire a bike for a further £x per hour?

I've misunderstood this, right?

Or are they really that completely bonkers?

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Yes, you have misread it.

It's £1 per day that you use the scheme.

If you're going to use it a lot, an annual pass is £45.

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Boffin

No, you have NOT misread it.

but it is badly written, as the access fee is not correctly defined, and your extrapolation is wrong due to volume discounts.

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Cambridge?

It's marginally more accountable than the old Cambridge attempt, but I wonder how many of the bikes will still be there and in good working order by Christmas?

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Cambridge

They tried a similar scheme in Cambridge around 15 years ago, albeit without the pay element. The result - within weeks there were campaigns in the press to report if you had seen one of the bicycles.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2007/jan/06/freestuff.guardianspecial435

"And in one brave attempt at free community bicycles in Cambridge in 1993, all 300 bicycles were stolen on the first day ..."

Liberal council IIRC. Bless 'em.

Still - at least Cameron understands bicycle security...he tends to lock his to a, er, bollard.

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Flame

What?

"...you pay a £1 a day to access the scheme and then pay again to hire the bike - charges start at £1 for an hour, although the first 30 minutes are free."

Whereas in Paris they pay €1 per day or €5 per week. Brilliant. And embarrassing.

Who is going to use these things? Not Londoners, as they already have their travel itinerary sorted and will see no reason to pay the same price as on the Tube to power themselves (and know that cycling in central London is akin to playing Russian Roulette in terms of safety). Not foreigners, because it's too damn complex.

So an otherwise great idea will be scrapped in a year because it wasn't popular, having obstructed most barriers to entry. Genius.

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RTFA - £45/year, £5/week or £1/day

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14811.aspx

As far as I can tell, the annual just lets you take advantage of the no-hassle FOB, and possibly the free 1/2 hr?

How exactly do they stop the one-time users scarpering with the bikes?

I'm quite interested in watching this scheme in action.

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Stop

How they stop thieves

They charge your credit/debit card for the cost of the bike. It's on the site.

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Stop

It's NOT £365 a year

1 Day is £1

7 Day Membership is £5

Annual - £45

Then fees on top:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14811.aspx

STOP: Because most cyclists dont.

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Headmaster

greek fail

[STRONGMAD]THAT'S REDUNDANT[/STRONGMAD]

as everyone ought to know: "the hoi polloi" means "the the people"

write the following 500 times:

the: plural

n - hoi hai ta

a - tous tas ta

g - ton ton ton

d - tois tais tois

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Anonymous Coward

Fail Squared

We speak English, not Greek. When we borrow words or phrases from other languages we Anglicise them. For example, our pronunciation of Paris rhymes with "piss" not "pee", and no Frenchie ain't never gonna change that.

In English, the definite article is "the". Hence, "the hoi polloi" is perfectly acceptable, and was most probably made so by the hoi polloi who would find remarks like "I'm better than hoi polloi" a little strange on the ears. We don't care that there's redundancy there. We don't care what your Victorian grammar book says. That's also why "irregardless" is a perfectly acceptable English word.

Have you got that grammar twats?

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Stop

Price structure

There are three access price bands for the cycle hire scheme - Daily @ £1, Weekly @ £5 and Annually @ £45.

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14811.aspx

Presumably any Londoner who is bothering to use the scheme will opt for the annual access fee?

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Syd
Pint

Thanks For Clarifying

So, not "completely bonkers" then! (To quote my earlier post!)

(We need a 'Jaffa Cake' icon - they have one on mumsnet, you know!! Or... er... so I'm told, by... er... friends!!)

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WTF?

Hello grim reaper

As a London cyclist I am looking forward to this scheme coming into being with amusement and horror. London roads are a death trap “In 2005, 20 cyclists were killed and 338 injured on London's roads. In 2006, 18 were killed and 349 injured and last year 14 died and 253 were injured.” - evening standard. At the best of times fit young local cyclists get killed. I can not imagine the consequence of letting an unsuspecting European tourists loose on the roads of London. For a start the cycle network is so poor it is a joke. Hardly any of the major roads have cycle paths on them, the ones which do the cycle paths are put in as an after thought, with lampposts right in the centre of them. Then there are kens bendy buses don't get caught between one of those turning left and and a metel railing, you will die. The concept of a joint bus-taxi-minivan-motorcycle-lorry cycle lane – another death trap. The road condition is dreadful with manhole covers sticking out of the tarmac or pot holes so deep they will throw you off your bike. The list goes on, cycling in London is not for the faint hatred.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Huge fail

This is going to be a FAIL as are all the empty cycle lanes covering the country, except all the bicycles, parks, support systems and maintenance being much more expensive than painting lines on the road it will be a much bigger FAIL.

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Thumb Up

Works fine in Paris

We have a similar scheme in Paris (Velolib) and it is great. Costs are similar but in euros. 1 euro a day if you subscribe for a day. However it is only 30 euros for a year. The object of the scheme is to get Parisians using bicycles for short trips so it is free for the first half hour, 1 euro for the second half hour and very expensive after that.

There are now so many bicycle stations you are always within 300 yards of one. The big benefit of Velolib is that when you reach your destination you do not have to worry about finding somewhere to chain you bike.

As for safety, before Velolib I would never consider cycling in Paris, it was far, far more dangerous than London (I use to cycle everywhere when I lived in London). But now there are so many bicycles on the street, drivers are use to watching out for cyclists. Also the town council have easily been able to justify making loads of safe cycle paths (i.e. not simply a painted line forcing cyclists in the "door" zone), new regulations turning one-way streets in 20mph zones into bidirectional for bicycles, etc.

Lots of teething problems at first, nobody (including me) though it would work and it was just a mad green ideal. Turned out several years later to have become a massive success.

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Anonymous Coward

Bicing Barcelona

Your comments also apply perfectly to Barcelona's Bicing scheme, which works almost identically to the Paris scheme apart from in that it's still cheap up to 2 hours (but expensive afterwards, and you get a "strike" - and with three strike's you're out). Also, the website and phone application gives you *live* info on where the bikes and free spaces are. http://www.bicing.cat/localizaciones/localizaciones.php

The only part of your comment which doesn't apply is "nobody (including me) though it would work and it was just a mad green ideal". Here, we knew it would work, and 20,000 people pre-booked (including me), with 80,000 signed up in the first few months. (A great many were foreign residents, who generally know quality-of-life indicators when they see them.) The organisers were only expecting 20,000 in the whole of the first year, which certainly contributed to the teething problems!

I think I'm right in saying that that 1000 bikes has now become 6000, and many tens of stations have become many hundreds.

Bicing turned a great place to live into an awesome place to live. One year I got three strikes (we're pretty casual here ;-) and I couldn't use the service for a couple of months. My social life almost died. We use Bicing to go *everywhere*. It turns your city into a village, it's cheap as chips, it's healthy, and it avoids you having to enter the metro in summertime which is hotter than the sun.

Admittedly the generally great weather here helps too; it's so much nicer to be in the fresh air than in the cattle trucks!

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Works Ok in Dublin

They've had this for a while now in Dublin and it appears to be going quite well. I was convinced all the bikes would end up either in the river or still attached to the docking bay with all their tyres slashed. Strangely this hasn't happened. The bikes are also constantly moved to different stations depending on need so stations are never usually full or empty. You do however see people who haven't been on a bike since the Chopper was in vogue wobbling through rush hour traffic. Try that in London and I'm sure you won't get too far.

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FAIL

Tax-free bikes for work

Someone has to pay for the Government scheme 'Tax-free bikes for work' where you can buy a new bike and get about 50% off.....every single year!

Nu-Labour did loads of cool stuff like this, and build schools and hospital but didn't actually finance them.

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Flame

You're Presenting It Wrong...

We've had this system in Montreal for two years now, and it is truly wonderfully great. It has transformed the downtown core into something more like Amsterdam than the old New York City gridlock (well, ok maybe it hasn't quite achieved all that yet). But it *is* really really good and has now grown to 400 stands and 5000 bikes.

"charges start at £1 for an hour, although the first 30 minutes are free.":

The idea is that it a free bike for half an hour, which is long enough to get most places. The "charge" you mention is a fine to discourage people keeping them out of the system for longer than 30 minutes.

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FAIL

£4

OK here's the deal, I tried to register, I chose reoccurring £1 a day since I'll use it once in a while if I don't have my bike with me and the site says clearly it will only reoccur when I actually use the bike, I then proceeded to register.

It tried to charge me £4 straight off, with no explanation of how that works, am I prepaying the £1 for when I first use it as logic dictates? or for the first day as a thieving bank like Barclays would dictate, I just don't trust Boris perhaps...

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Go

That'll be your RFID Membership Key......

You tried to register so you were trying to become a "member" To quote the TfL site "Membership key: £3 each to release the cycles easily and quickly. You will need to pay the £3 Membership key fee for each key you request (up to 4 keys)."

So pre pay one quid, pay for RFID key 3 quid, total 4 quid.

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Addition

£3 for the card and £1 for the first day, perhaps?

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Silver badge

@You're Presenting It Wrong

Based on Montreal's success they are introducing it here.

It's going to cost $20M for 1000 bikes.

Trouble is that helmets are mandatory here, and heavily policed - the police tripled their number of fines during bike to work week. So the system relies on somebody wandering through dowwtown carrying a bike helmet but who doesn't own a bike.

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Stop

Works fine in Brussels and Paris.

The Villo in Brussels and Vélib in Paris seem to work fine. In fact I use them fairly regularly, and have never had a problem. I cycled from the Berlaymont to Gare du Midi in Brussels last week for a mere £1.23, which is cheaper than the Metro system. I am just a casual user as well, and it couldn't have been simpler. Slot in your card, select a bike, cycle away.

As for not being able to return the bike, there tends to be massive cycle hire stations at train stations and on the outskirts (places like the Pont de Neuilly Metro station on the outskirts of Paris or the Gare du Nord) and smaller ones in the main business areas of the city. I have never had a problem returning a bike. You are never more than 500m from a return station, and they usually tell you where the nearest one with free slots/free bikes are.

There is a flow of bikes in one direction, but this is usually sorted out overnight by the scheme operators who attempt to balance the loadings and there are more stands than bikes.

So, a scheme that works fine elsewhere falls apart in this country. We Brits could not organise a convivial get-together in a place of ale production even when following a plan laid down by previous soirée organisers.

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"falls apart in this country"

Oh come on, it's surely a bit early to start giving it the "ALL UK SCHEMES == EPIC FAILURES, ALWAYS, WHAT A BUNCH OF IDIOTS" before the thing's even launched. At least wait until there's an actual disaster after the launch date before writing it off as a waste of time.

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Megaphone

£365 / year vs £45 /year

As a London pedestrian, I'd like to point out that all those who think it'll cost £365 per year be banned from this scheme for life. If you can't read, you shouldn't be cycling.

There are enough close-calls between pedestrians and cyclists - like the guy who nearly got the people in front of me when he cycled straight through a red light at a pedestrian crossing on Picadilly the other day, then actually used the pedestrian crossing - on his bike - to go across the other lane; no shortage of police in the area and no action taken against this guy. If people like him are allowed to use it, this scheme is effectively being encouraged to fail.

It's not a bad idea, teething problems to be expected - give it a few months to see how it plays out. One serious accident involving moron on a TfL bike vs. pedestrian, then it's a whole different question.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh yeah...

Then you should be banned from commentarding, erm, FOR LIFE! because it didn't mention anywhere in teh article that there was alternatives to the £1 a day "Access to the scheme" fee. If you have a problem with that, then have a go at the article for being misleading, not your fellow commenters who take the article as face value.

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Go

Free app for the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme

Hey guys, Apple just approved our FREE London Cycle app which shows the locations of the cycle stations as well as providing routes from one station to another.

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/london-cycle-free-maps-routes/id383292875?mt=8

http://londoncycleapp.com/

Let's get London cycling!

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Go

Jeez people really don't read up on stuff before spouting off.

The £1 a day is charged for the days you use it - so use it five days a year and pay £5. If you plan on using it more than 45 days in the year then go for the £45 annual membership.

The bikes are expensive and hence they want to have some kind of credit or debit card on file to chase you down if you nick it. Presumably the casual scheme will take a deposit (though hopefully not like in Paris where it allegedly charges you €200 and doesn't pay you back for a month).

As for cyclists hitting into people, it's not like you need a licence to own a bike in the first place.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it going live. It means I don't need to worry with the hassle of fixing punctures or my bike getting stolen. More importantly though, it's less of a commitment. So you can cycle to work and then catch the tube to the pub on your way home. Or similar sorts of things.

The hourly rates seem quite a lot but I think the point is that this kind of scheme only really works if people just use the bikes when they're cycling and don't hog them all day. If you need to cycle more than the free thirty minutes then presumably (hopefully) you can just check it in and then out again straight away.

The main challenge is making sure there's docking stations in enough places. They seem to have installed loads around where I live but I haven't seen one around work yet. Not that I've looked mind - when I checked before the map showing their locations didn't seem to be working.

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