The London Cycle Hire Scheme

Bike from Battersea to Bow and beyond with the London Cycle Hire Scheme.

What's the deal with the scheme?
The Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme officially rolled out on July 30, 2010. Perfect for short journeys, the ‘Boris Bikes’ are a great way to travel to a meeting, pop to the shops, meet friends or take in the fantastic sights of London on a bike ride.

How do I get pedalling?
If you want to travel on a Boris bike you don’t have to be a member - just hire a bike with your credit or debit card, ride it where you like and return it to any docking station. You can visit here for a short video on how it works but essentially you simply go to a terminal and select ‘hire a cycle’ and follow the instructions to get a release code. Then check your bike and enter the code at the docking point. When the light turns green – you’re good to go. Visit here to find a docking station.

You can return the bike to any available docking station. Just push the bike back into a docking point and wait for a green light. This means you have successfully docked your bike. If you can’t find a space, go to the terminal and select ‘no docking point free’ and you will get an extra 15 minutes to get to a space in a nearby docking station. 

Available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, there are now more than 10,000 bikes at over 700 docking stations across London, with docking stations every 300–500 metres. And following a recent expansion to south west London, bikes are now available anywhere from Canary Wharf to Camden Town and from Wandsworth to the Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush. Just one thing to remember: you do have to be over 14 to ride the bikes.

How much does it cost?
Costs start from £2 for 24-hour bike access, with this including all journeys under 30 minutes. There’s no limit to how many trips you can take in a day and you only have to wait five minutes between docking a bike and taking out another one. If you keep a bike for 30 minutes or longer extra ride charges apply. These start from £1 for 30 mins–1 hour. See here or check the terminal for details.

If you damage or don’t return a bike you could face a fine of up to £300. Remember to always wait for the green light when docking a bike otherwise they may continue to charge your for the journey.  If you are a frequent user you can register for a key here. Yearly bike access is £90 and includes all journeys under 30 minutes. Alternatively you can become a Pay As You Pedal Member and use your key to automatically start a 24-hour bike access for £2 when you take out your first bike of the day


huseyin t

I've benn cycling (with Boris bikes) in London for 4 days during my visit in January 2015. I've experienced a smooth and enjoyable cycling. This is clear even when for example if I mention the truth that in Madrid city you are not allowed to cycle on bus/taxi lanes. It was nice to discover London on bikes, cause also I met the city London with more only cycle lanes. Just to mentioned that when you are cycling on any A- routes in London, the traffic is faster and also the cyclists. These cyclists they were all like professional ones, like our Alberto Contador, the spanish premium professional cyclist. On these A- routes in London, even the taxi drivers will overtake you dangerously very closer. In Madrid you are allowed to cycle in a park anywhere you want, but in London it's strictly forbidden to cycle when you are in pedesterian areas. In general, the cycling in London is safe and a pleasure.


Might be a good idea to put little stickers on the center of the handlebars or crossbar showing the basic traffic/hand turn signals (left, right, stopping) so everyone will be safer... personally I am very happy to have more bikes on the road, whatever the outcome- cars REALLY stink up the joint (London has bad air, sorry!), cars drive way too fast, and don't really get anywhere faster anyway! Riding a bike is faster because it beats congestion, in more ways than one, is cheaper, healthier, way more fun, and there is no down side but the rain and people who forget to share the road.

Matthew M

I am all for people using bicycles to cut down congestion and to make life generally a bit easier. What I am concerned about is the complete lack of road skill that people seem to have on the bicycles provided by this scheme. I ride a motorcycle to work each day, whilst I find that the regular bicycle commuters have some road sense, once off riders on the scheme cycles certainly do not!

Marilyn Petridean

How about making tandem's available on this scheme also? it is a great way of working together and not all can cycle! Yeah for cycling!

Clarry B

They also do this in Barcelona...its a great idea. The more you use it, the more familiar you will become with the docking stations. Lots of peeps in Barca use them to get to side of the city to the other for example....not many just use them for pleasure...altho they are there for you to do so if you wish....think positively and lets get it going.....think bike!!!!!


While I think it this scheme fill an important gap I am not too happy with some things. It seems quite pricey, for a start. And what about security? No locks? No helmets? In a city like London, with yawning potholes and racing minicabs, this raises serious security issues for inexperienced cyclists. All I can hope is, that it convinces more people to get their own bike and start using it. With a helmet, that is.


STAY AWAY from this. There is no service, you order 3 keys, then use only one bike but get charged for 3! that's INSANE.. promising but really not ready yet. -> impossible to reach on the phone, the person you talk to tell you she can't help -> on the website when you click on submit the complaint the website crashes and tell you to call them...what a joke!! Wait another 3 months maybe.


STAY AWAY from this. There is no service, you order 3 keys, then use only one bike but get charged for 3! that's INSANE.. promising but really not ready yet. -> impossible to reach on the phone, the person you talk to tell you she can't help -> on the website when you click on submit the complaint the website crashes and tell you to call them...what a joke!! Wait another 3 months maybe.

Bryan Raven

I think the scheme is brilliant BUT the scheme is misrepresenting the costs. All the publicity says £45 per year plus £3 per key for up to four keys but they charged me £96 for two keys and now they have changed the website. But all the printed publicity and parts of the website clearly say "£45 per year plus £3 per key". I am waiting for a call back from TFL as the operator was unable to deal with my query....I am not holding my breath


I've just received this week's T.O.and am dismayed to see so much space in the letters page devoted to the misinformed ramblings of dullards. Maunder and your oh so vulnerable pedestrian (in every sense of the word) mates - just keep your eyes open and stop wandering into the middle of the road without looking, scooter boy, thanks for reminding me there is a more despised class of road user than cyclists, and those who think it is too expensive/in the wrong place/corporate whoredom etc. try engaging your brain and working out why it has been done how it has been before BLEATING. I have foiund it brilliant! Have joined up the annoying gap between Liverpool Street and London Bridge a couple times, I've escaped late evening bus gridlick in the West end and docked at the point beyond which the buses run freely again and I've picked up a nice bit of lunch from the delicious Vietnamese cafe that is just a bit too far to get to and from by foot from the office. The only criticism is that they are geared a bit low so you can't really get much speed up but maybe that's just a sop to those quivering on the sidelines, horrified at the (rather sedate) rise of the cycles!


I used the BIXI bike scheme they have in Montreal, when I was there a few weeks ago and it was fabulous!!! Highigh of my trip was being able to bike whenever and wherever for a small price, especially as it was very hot this was much nicer than walking. They do have big wide streets and dedicated up and down lanes for bixi's - would be fab if we had this space in London but we dont! Ive signed up but am a bit apprehensive to use the bikes as I am not a brilliant cyclist and busy roads scare me! I will use it for riding to Parks and local non main roads. The priciple idea is fabulous it's just the safety issue most people are concerned about - Boris needs to concentrate on this aspect - as otherwise the scheme might not take off in the way it has been able to in other countries and that would be a HUGE shame. London is a lovely city and even nicer when you're not surrounded by traffic and fumes! :) oh and its NOT £50 compulsary ... I have paid only £5 ior so to start the membership so Streetcar is NOT cheaper... streetcar is also not good for everyone !


very very UNHAPPY with it so far. 1) the BCH person told me I could have 2 keys on one membership, when I went online and orderer one year membership (£45) + one key, I was charged £90, what's the point then? 2) I ordered 2 keys (£1 credit only for now), I received my welcome pack with only 1 key, on my account it says I have 2, so rung them, they couldn't help so I am waiting for them to call back. Basically my weekend with my girlfriend will be spent walking I guess.. 3) now I can't seem to upgrade to £45 for the key I want to use (not the spare one). I think they did a good job at having the bikes ready on time, but their service is absolutely horrible. I would advise to wait another 3 months before signing up.

Daniel Sobral

This scheme is following closely the French scheme which I find brilliant. It is not a bycicly rental service, but a free quick mobility service. 1/2 free promotes quick travel to most places at a "reasonable" distance. An increasing price by time (and not reducing as common sense would indicate) demotes people from taking the bike for long... leaving them for other people to use. If you want a bike to visit London, this is not it! To have a bike for a whole day(or longer), other companies must already provide that service. Congrats for the initiative!


sally you miss the point. It's supposed to be for quick, free trips. They're not being greedy, they're trying to make you share. If you take a bike for a day, then nobody else can use that bike. The way it's structured, 1 bike can serve hundreds of people making quick trips around the city. Plus if you need a bike for a day, just keep stopping and swapping every half hour. If I take the tube/bus to work it'll cost me £2-£5/day. If I take a bike it's £1/day, may be faster than tube/bus, and gives me some exercise. Brilliant! If you want to keep the same bike for a whole day (remembering you also need to carry a chain and lock it whenever you stop), then there's plenty of other bike hire places that are designed for that type of service - and I imagine you'd have to get there early on popular days or all the bikes would be gone already.

sally come lately

Those of you complaining about the £50 fee - are you really planning on riding the bike for 24hours without stopping?! More fool you.


£35 +1 for 6 hours !!! That is insane. Great scheme but the greed of the TFL again is embarrassing. Ride a bicycle advertising Barclaycard? No thanks. And half an hour is free ? It's simply misleading advertising ! It's 1 pound to acces daily, so not free. And if you forget to return the bicycle on time that's £150 pounds ! Why on Earth so much ???? Anyone can forget sometimes. It's only a bicycle !!!! The whole scheme just smacks of TFL's corporate greed. Couldn't they make it affordable to everyone? Pricing and Barclays involvement are a just one big disappointment. So symptomatic of the UK corporate culture. Complain to TFL and ask them to lower and simplify charges and scrap the fine !

N. Sutton

To Gina Melosi "London is now one of the best cycle cities in the world." You obviously have not ridden a bicycle in some bicycle friendly cities such as Amsterdam or Munich. London is a terrible (and dangerous, ask any cab driver and he will tell you horrow stories about accidents with bicycles) bicycling city with almost no dedicated paths. Where you got the idea that London is great for biking is a mystery.

Gina Melosi

to Eva Marcuse, London is now one of the best cycle cities in the world. We don't need anyone to show us how to ride stylishly. I see so many hot bikes on a daily basis, it's like a constant stream of porn to my bike-obsessed brain. Granted these Barclays bikes really aren't very sexy though...

N. Sutton

While the idea is good in principle the pricing is outrageous. It seems that the private firm BIXI (most recent profits about $7 million) has set the pricing such as to yield more sizable profits. In comparison the pricing in Germany is only about 1/5 th, where the maximum daily rate is £10 while in London it is £50 !!! Not only that, the London BIXI scheme asks for an annual fee of £45 (which is NOT offset against riding charges) while the German scheme is a one-time fee of €5 which IS offset against riding fees. It is amazing that London could not come up with a similar scheme to Germany's but opts instead to make a profit off its claims to want to encourage people to ride cars less.

Lock Stock

London Cycle Hire LIVE for android has now been updated to include live information on the number of bikes and bike spaces along with an interactive map and other great features. Search the android market for "London Cycle Hire LIVE" or check out this blog entry

Ian Fuller

London Cycle Hire LIVE for android devices now includes live information on bike and bike space availability along with other great features. Head on over to the market and search for "London Cycle Hire Live" or checkout more details on my blog -


I do hope they'll get round to bringing the stations south to at least Brixton- but it's the beginning of the scheme, and it was always going to be concentrated on zone one to start with. A bit dismayed by the bitching here, to be honest. This is a brilliant, progressive scheme and it deserves support at its inception-- you can guarantee that the car lobby will be sharpening its claws if it affects the car's pre-eminence in London. So it's sponsored by a bank. Big deal. Live in the real world, morons.


Please people, it is sponsored by a bank, presumably because they bid the most amount of money for the advertising. It's not in the rest of London yet, because it makes sense to role it out centrally first and then gradually expand. It's not expensive if you are just using it for a journey to another cycle drop-off point (which you should be). It is expensive if for some reason you want to pay for the privilege of laying it next to you in the park or otherwise keeping the bike when you're not actually riding. Stop moaning and engage your brains!


People, get a grip please! If you want to use the bike for periods of more than 24 hours, then you should just pay £45 for annual access Alternatively, dock it every 30 minutes and you can cycle around all day for free. If you are out and about, you are going to need to dock the bike anyway to get a drink or visit a museum - it all makes sense! The Cycle hire scheme has always had plans to be much bigger than it is now, this is the first phase! If its not in your area now, its not to say it won't be. Putting it in across the whole of London would have been overkill in the first stages!


The cycle hire scheme zone extends from Whitecahapel in the east to Earls Court in the west. It would therefore take a cyclist travelling at 12 miles per hour roughly 45 minutes to cross from one side of the zone to the other. The excess usage charge however kicks in after just 30 minutes.


The location of the docking stations is tantamount to saying zone 1 is London, and London is zone 1. What a massive insult to the majority of Londoners who don't live in zone1. How on earth can they call it a London scheme! Once again South London gets shafted with most of its docking stations being located in the touristy areas of Lambeth and Southwark so essentially serving visitors not Londoners. Pathetic!


Why oh why are they branded with a bank?! Such a missed opportunity - we could be adding to the frisson and joy of London, instead we're not allowed to forget: it's all about money, mate. Money money effing money. Romance factor = zero.


Initially very excited, because I'm actually travelling to London next week. Sadly, the pay-as-you-go option will only be available from September onwards. Is it that the company wants to make fast money in August by pushing people towards the expensive annual subscription? In Brussels, a similar system (the Paris one) has been installed a few months ago, and subscriptions are free until the end of 2010! So it's sad that your average tourist who's not willing to spend £45 is left in the August - uhm - cold. Especially because I assume traffic in London is less congested during the summer months, so it could be a great opportunity. By the way, you have to ride Canadian bikes, we have to ride French ones. That's globalization for you...


I the idea in principal but do have a couple of grips. Wouldn't it be better to first prepare the capital's roads so that cycling in London is safer? Particularly in the West End. Mapping a proper 'Bikes Only' route system throughout the center of the city should be set-up. Making chosen roads 'bike's only' roads so that the majority of cyclists are separated from traffic. I can think of a lot of driver's who would also appreciate this idea. Some of the smaller roads would be ideal for this. Apart from deliveries to establishments & business's where deliveries have to be at a certain time (say before 7 or between 10-12?) this would make the use of these bikes a far greater success. I do think it very sad that the bikes were built in Canada and not the UK. That's a disgrace!


V frustrated - was waiting for this to launch - it always said 'you just have to sign up online' - not 'you have to sign up AND WAIT A WEEK FOR A KEY! Oh well - look forward to checking it out in a week.


I think some people are missing the point. The bikes are intended for short journeys, free for 30mins. To cycle across London is around 30mins (Trafalgar Sq to Liverpool St), for £1 a day you can take / return as many times as you like in a day, if using them for 30mins at a time it can be FREE, so not sure why some people are saying its expensive, be realistic you have to cover running costs. Why would you be cycling around for 24 hours without getting off the bike.... the fee of £50 is just to encourage people to return the bikes.

Borough David

There's tons in south London, but just in Zone 1.


The scheme is a great idea, but why are there no stations in South London?

Eva Marcuse

"Otherwise, it’s £1 for an hour, rising to £50 for the maximum hire period of 24 hours." So, how many hours make a day in London?


Get a life (bike) folks! Let's stop being so negative.... this could be a good thing. Personally, so long as riders are wearing helmets I think we should try it.... there will be a growing in period when drivers and new cyclists get used, but it could be an opportunity... let's embrace it and see.


As a pedestrian who has been hit by a cyclist I don't like the idea of even more people cycling into me.


The article has a couple of important points wrong: -Registering does not require paying £45 for a year: You can also register for a week or a day. The main thing it requires is a £4 fee for the key fob thingie. If you register for a day or week, you can set it up to automatically charge you for one day or week the next time you use it, so it is a rolling charge. That is a better deal if you believe that you will use the scheme fewer than 45 days a year, or 9 weeks a year. -This initiative, by the way it is designed, is clearly not a substitute for proper cycling (meaning cycling rather than using the tubes or buses), but an adjunct to using tubes and buses. The bicycles are not meant for long distances, the charges go up after a short time, etc. If you get off at Paddington station, and want to go to Hyde Park (or Lancaster Gate tube station for that matter), it is a 10-minute walk, or a 3-minute bike ride. So, comments about it being too expensive miss the point.


£50 a day? you can go and buy a bike,


Wondering if it would be a good idea to expand the cycle hire scheme to other London areas, instead of just zone 1. Car pollution and road congestion isn't happening in Central London alone! If the Mayor's scheme is going to beat Streetcar's initiative for vehicle hire, then maybe the next step along is the introduction of a day cycle pass, like the bus pass along with bikes for hire in most London areas.


Its not free in Paris people... (in fact its a good few euro's)

steve Ashton

If this is an alternative to taking the tube then it should be free.. If i cant gaurentee there will be a bike there to cycle back when i need it, then i have to use public transport anyway.. I cant not buy my tube pass, and have to pay extra to maybe use a bike.. Doesnt make sense.. And oh yeah!! Rain, snow and carzy drivers!

Jenny Day

At last a Paris style Velibes system for London. Just one question though. Why didn't they allow payment using an oyster card? That would have been both logical and convenient.


Yes, it's a good idea, but should be for free like it is in France...and this would be really the great revolution!


I agree with jevs. I think it's a brilliant scheme and plan to get on at Waterloo and cycle to the West End, assuming there are bikes left. I don't actually want to cycle from South London as it is too far/too long so this means I can cycle without needing to find somewhere to park my bike :)


I really like the scheme but as a few people have mentioned.... 1) Add it to the oyster card / Travel card scheme 2) Maybe it could be expanded (when it becomes a succes) out to Zone 2 tube stations... Francesca - i think youre right, its not really meant to help commuters "get to work" as they live MILES away. But would you use it for getting around town when you are already at work? perhaps you have to get from work to a meeting across town? or get back from that meeting? Then i think commuters will use it.


I think this is a BRILLIANT idea. I'm going to sign up and give it a go - I used to ride my own bike into work when I lived in Manchester but after having three successive bikes stolen in London I gave up and got on the train instead. Whilst with this scheme I can't (yet) cycle from home to work, I can cycle from Waterloo station to work in Soho, saving me an unpleasant and time-consuming yomp on the tube. Plus I think it'll be good for some of those little half-hour journeys at lunchtime or after work that take too long if you're walking and the tube just isn't convenient for. I guess the only downsides are a) that with only 20-30 bikes at each 'docking station' there may not be nearly enough bikes to cope with demand, particularly outside the big railway stations at 8.30am, and b) that it's not included in my supposedly unlimited Oyster travelcard (this is public transport, of sorts, so why is it not covered?). Still, £50 for a year's unlimited access is peanuts so I'm going to give it a go.