London's new cycle share schemeTwo-wheeled public transport starts on 30 July

23 July 2010


The Velib' Paris cycle share scheme

London joins over 135 cities worldwide with its new cycle share scheme 

Joining the other UK cities including Blackpool and Cardiff already with cycle share schemes, London’s Barclays Cycle Scheme launches on 30 July and is just one of well over one hundred similar global bicycle hire schemes.

Many of us hire bikes on holiday, often handing over our credit card to someone in a ramshackle hut and hoping for the best.Over the past few years, however, cities and towns all over the world have been transforming cycle hire into an automated and sophisticated process to encourage short cycle journeys. 

The bike share schemes offer numerous stands or collection points in popular, central locations, promoting cycling as a viable alternative to taking taxis or public transport. Registering credit card details online or via your mobile phone allows quick access to the bikes, although navigating the registration procedures in different languages around the world could be the first challenge for visitors, as not all are in English.

Comparing cost and convenience of city cycle schemes

Which? Travel research shows that the London scheme compares well with others around the world for cost and convenience. When fully operational, 6,000 bikes will be docked at 400 stations across central London – a station every 300 meters. 

As a tourist, a £1 daily access fee will give riders the first 30 minutes of every journey free. If you are travelling with children, however, you're likely to be better off hiring a bike through a bike shop. Most of these schemes tend to have a minimum age of at least 14.

Cycle hire schemes
Citynumber of bikesStandsweekly membershipDaily membershipFree first half hour?Cost for 1 hourCost for 3 hoursOther
Cardiff7014£5£5yes0.50p£2.50no hire charges with day membership
Blackpool50080n/an/ayes£1£3For non-members, day tickets available £10 unlimited use/day, £6 for half a day
Dublin45040n/a€2 (3 day pass)yes1.5 (for 1 hour)€3.50only 14 of 40 stations have credit card terminals for 3 day users
Paris24,0001750€5€1yes€1€14Get an extra 15 minutes free if you take your bike back to an unpopular stand (i.e. Up to the hill in Montmartre)
Nice90090£5€1yes€1€5Public transport card will work on bike systems, call is free as no one answers
Vannes (Brittany)17420€5€1yes€1€5Call is free as no one answers
Copenhagen2,000110See otherSee otherSee otherSee otherSee other20 Danish Krone refundable deposit
Vienna20064n/a€2yesfree€2Citybike tourist card available at hotels and pensions, or register directly by credit card at stand
Berlin30048n/an/ano€1/hour, €8/24h€3Additional 2euro charge at Checkpoint Charlie collection (no registration required)
Stockholm100074n/a125 Krona (3 day card)n/an/an/aMaximum 3 hours with one bike. Operates April to October only.
Melbourne60050$8$2.50yes$2 31-60 mins, $5 61-90 mins, $10 additional 30 mins$35Minimum age 16
Montreal5,000n/a$5n/ayesn/an/aSolar powered stands, scheme shuts in winter
Auckland17535+$5n/an/a$4 per hour for first 3 hours$1230 mins free per 24 hours for registered users.


Rochelle Turner, Head of Research at Which? Travel says,
'Although, at first glance, London isn’t as set up for cycling as other cities around the world, there are actually many miles of traffic-free cycle routes and traffic-calmed areas. The biggest challenge for those who fancy a longer journey, may be in finding a new bike along your route every 29 minutes, so you don’t rack up extra (often hefty) charges.'