Cycle Hire Schemes
The part of me that would shout at people cycling along the pavement when there’s a perfectly good road next to it, albeit a road with murderous levels of traffic and no provision whatsoever for bikes, used to feel somewhat underwhelmed when it comes to cycle hire schemes. The logic in my head would go along these lines . . .
"Not having a bike isn’t a reason for driving rather than cycling - it’s just an excuse . If people were really motivated, then they’d get a bike. As it is, they really would just rather sit on their fat backsides in the comfort of their 4×4s"
Now that you mention it, yes I do sometimes foam at the mouth.
Anyway. I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong. The whole point of cycle hire schemes is that you don’t have to have your own bike. Or if you do, then you don’t have to have it with you all the time. And with most bike hire schemes being free for the first half hour of use, they make for a suddenly mobile population . . . without the disincentive of having to put their hands in their pockets. It means that there’s something there to tempt the non-cycling majority to have a go.
London is the latest city to join in this game, with the crassly named, Barclays Cycle Hire. Lets face it, the only people who’re going to call it that are TFL stooges, and assuming that he can remember it, the Mayor of London.
The rest of us will be calling them Boris Bikes.
Anyway, in common with other schemes, here’s how it works:
- You pay a registration fee to be a user. This is something like a membership fee for a fixed period
- You can then use the bikes, and separate usage fees are applied
Let’s compare the cost of various schemes (I’ve converted the London scheme’s fees into Euros to allow a comparison):
|12 months||£45 / €54||€29||€25||€10|
|7 days||£5 / €6||€5|
|1 day||£1 / €1.20||€1|
|Up to 1 hour||£1 / €1.20||€1||€1||€0.50|
|Up to 1 1/2 hrs||£4 / €4.80||€3||€3|
|Up to 2 hrs||£6 / €7.20||€7||€3||€1.50|
|Up to 2 1/2 hrs||£10 / €12||€11||€5|
|Up to 3 hrs||€15||€5||€3.50|
|Up to 4 hrs||£15 / €18||€23||€7||€6.50|
|Up to 6 hrs||£35 / €42||€39||€11||€10.50|
|Up to 24 hrs||£50 / €60||€111||€47||€46.50|
So there you have it. In almost all cases, the London scheme is the most expensive. So that corporate sponsorship from Barclays must be making a huge contribution.
What about the bikes themselves? Well they’re the usual sturdy build that’s needed to survive the use by people who don’t actually own them.
London’s Boris Bikes (seen here previewed before Barclays got in on the act):
Nice’s Velo Bleu:
All have front baskets. Everyone apart from Nice seems to have opted for some method to encase the brake / gear cables - probably with half an eye on litigation / vandalism. All, apart from the Boris Bikes have some sort of lock included, so you can park your bike outside a shop while you pop in for a paper. I guess that you’re expected to return the Boris Bike to a station - they’re transport, not utility bikes?
And ONLY the Velo Bleu, from the perpetually good-weathered Côte d’Azur has opted for a maintenance-free shaft drive in preference to a chain:
So which is the best cycle hire scheme?
Darlington ? Yep - not to be outdone by these blinged-up upstarts, Darlington has launched Darlove lo (geddit?). The annual charge is just £5, and then the monthly rental is just £20. So that’s easily the best value for anything other than hop-on / hop-off use. And just look at the kind of bike you get to ride:
Give me a bike that looks like its been lived in, and may have actually been one of the extras in Beauty & The Bike - I’d take that in preference to a mobile advertising hoarding any day!