They are now red like the typical English phone booths, the ever-present double-decker buses and like the Santander banks, the new sponsors of this service.
I am talking about the over 8000 self-service bikes available in London city, a very practical way to discover the city.
There are more than 600 bike stations all around London.
You must pay two pounds a day if you wish to hire a bike and you can charge it to your credit card and pay according to the time spent with the bike.
Bikes for hire
In the past, you needed to sign up for the service first and the site had to run a background check and credit history before granting you access to the bikes, but now it’s all easy-peasy: in order to rent a bike you do not need to register or become a member anymore, the only thing you need is a credit or debit card, therefore, anyone can hire a bike in London now, even the tourists.
It has been a real success: the service has now reached more than 200,000 users and over 10 million trips a year.
In London, we also call them Boris Bikes, after London’s mayor Sir Boris Johnson who is an expert cyclist and bike lover and who claims the paternity of the system put in place in 2010 even if, to be precise, it was his predecessor Ken Livingstone who had approved the project.
Several campaigns are currently encouraging locals to use these bikes and bicycles in general, but it is also true that the city is not so ‘bike-friendly’ due to its traffic, the many tunnels and the lack of bike lanes in many neighbourhoods.
In spite of that, hiring a bike in London is an excellent alternative to using public transport or a car to get around the city and I sincerely believe it is one of the best public bicycle systems in Europe.
On the official webpage or on the mobile app you'll see a map with all the bike stations existing, where you can check how many are available in each one.
You must proceed with two different payments to be able to make a bike rental in London. One is the payment for access (or access fee), while the other is the payment for use (or usage charge), which varies depending on the time you use the bicycle.
When you intend to rent a bike, you must first decide how long you want to rent it for, pay the corresponding access fee and then pay based on the time of use.
In case you rent the bike for less than thirty minutes you will not have to pay the usage fee and it will be completely free!
In zone 1 of London there are lots of bike stations, so it is very easy to take a bike and get another one in less than thirty minutes. In this way you will only pay two pounds to have access to the rental service for the whole day and with the same credit card you can rent up to a maximum of four bikes at a time.
In order to return the bike, you must fix it on the base so that a green light turns on, indicating that the bicycle has been properly secured.
If there is no free space in the station, the computer will tell you that the station is full and from that moment you’ll get another fifteen minutes to reach the nearest free station, which is shown to you by the computer.
It is not compulsory to wear a helmet or any other particular protection in London and the bikes are already fitted with regulation lights.
You don't have to worry about anything, you just have to pedal and stay in the left lane!
One thing to keep in mind is that you absolutely can't go on the sidewalk in London, if you do it, you will get a big fine.
You can use the cycle paths or the bus lanes, always keeping on the left side.