At the weekend I was staying in London near Hyde Park. I was quite surprised at the sheer volume of cycle hires I saw on the streets. It was a Sunday and perhaps the area around Hyde Park is one of the better areas for cycling, but, overall I was very impressed with the London Cycle Hire scheme.
- There were many docking stations within a short space. This gives you a lot of choice where to park. This helps make the scheme really effective.
- As a first time user, it was relatively straight forward to get a bike. If you register and get a key it would be quicker.
- The bikes and docking stations were well maintained. Everything worked. I was only a small sample but it seems to be a well thought out scheme.
- It is definitely aimed at the practical cycle user. I wasn’t intending to use the cycle hire scheme at all. But, I got tired walking around and to protect my knee I thought – lets hire a bike and cycle around. It was really great to get on a bike after the slowness of walking. If I hadn’t been so busy I would have cycled further.
- The main thing I like about the scheme is that I can see it encouraging cycling. It just makes cycling a more practical option for cycling around town. I think this will help London become a more cycle friendly city.
- The bikes are awful to ride. By this I mean they are slow and heavy! To many novice riders this is not a problem. But I only ride road bikes on thin tyres, moving down to these 20 stone heavyweights is quite a come down. As a Telegraph writer comments. “…It weighs more than 20kg, and has three gears: Sloth, Tortoise and Ageing Elephant.” (London v Paris bike hire)
- However, if I was designing the scheme, I would probably come up with similar bikes. They are probably the best choice given its purpose.
- Another advantage of this heavy weight machine and (very low gearing) is that it’s impossible to create any more London lycra louts. It is just simply impossible to cycle fast on a pavement on this thing even when you’re in ‘top gear’.
- No locks. This means if you stop and start you need to find a docking station or bring your own lock. Because there are so many docking stations (at least where I was cycling, this wasn’t such an issue.
- However, I’m sure a good designer could come up with a simple lightweight combination lock specifically for this scheme.
- London Cycle Hire at TFL