As exciting as the first ride on a red double-decker, or the first descent to the depths of the tube can be, moving by public transport in London can be expensive and time consuming. However distances can be too long for walking, so the best solution is to throw in the mix of means of transport the bicycle.
London’s bike sharing scheme is associated to a bank, first Barclays and now Santander. To avoid confusion – and because we don’t like banks – I’ll use the name that everybody love to use: Boris Bike.
How to use a Boris Bike
To use a bicycle you’ll need to buy a 24 hours access for just £2. You can do that directly at the docking station, using a bank card, or online at this page. Follow the instructions on screen and you will receive a 5-digit code. This code is valid for 10 minutes only at that station, next time you’ll pick up another bike (within your 24 hours) you’ll have to pop your card in the station and get a new code.
When you return the bike you’ll need simply to push the bike in an empty slot (it requires a firm shove) and wait until the green light stops blinking. If something goes wrong here you can call 0343 222 6666
To find a bike station you can use the interactive map you find at any station, check this page on the TFL website, or use one of the apps I mention at the end of this article.
How much does it cost?
The 24 hours pass costs £2 (which is less than two bus fares). If you keep the same bike for less than 30 minutes the ride will be free, if you exceed the half hour limit you’ll be charged £2 for each 30 minutes. Which is a very nice way to say that you need to use the Boris Bike only for short rides. You can hop from a station to another and you’ll only have to wait 5 minutes before the timer resets and you can take another 30 minutes of free ride.
If you want you can get a special key to get faster access to your bike: it costs £3 and it can be charged with a yearly pass (£90) or registered as a “pay as you pedal” (like the pay as you go on an Oyster Card), so that you will be only charged the £2 fee for each 24 hours access. To know more visit the official site.
Boris Bike Mobile Apps
The official mobile app for the London cycle hire scheme has just been released, 5 years after the project started. I haven’t tried it yet but if you do, please let me know:
I normally use this app which works great when it comes to locate the nearest bike station available: Street’Bike London
I can’t find the Apple version so if you have a nice app to recommend write in the comments!