You can explore London in different ways. On foot of course, by tube or bus or even by river bus. But take a bike and go cycling!
Transport for London (TFL) has set up an extensive network of rental bikes, the Santander Cycles, since 2010. Also called “Boris Bikes”, after Boris Johnson who was Mayor of London at the time of its introduction and also liked to go to work by bicycle.
There are about 11,500 bikes spread over 750 pick-up points, the so-called docking stations. Throughout the city you can grab or return a bike at these docking stations. And the beauty is, it’s super cheap!
How does it work?
- Go to a docking station nearby where there are plenty of bikes. You can check this in the Santander Cycles app, this app can also indicate an alternative location if the bikes are temporarily loaned out in a certain place.
- At the terminal you pay with your credit card, such as Mastercard, Visa or American Express.
- You get a receipt with an unlock code for the bike.
- Find a bike and enter the unlock code, if the light is green you can take out the bike. Please note that there is no red light at the bicycle, because the bike is then registered as defective. The bike is then picked up by Santander Cycles’ maintenance service to be repaired.
- Put your saddle at the right height and you are good to go!
Jullian McDonnell (Joolz) explains very clearly how it works.
How much does it cost?
The use of the bike costs about €2.50 per day and the first half hour is free. Every next half hour costs €2.50.
But when you return the bike to a docking station before the 30 minutes are every and wait 5 minutes, you can pick up another bike and the first 30 minutes are free again.
So if you plan your route from docking station to docking station it is possible that you can cycle through London for €2.50 all day.
If you get to a docking station where there is no more free space and your free 30 minutes are almost on, you can press a button on the central pole that the dock station is full. You will then be given extra time to reach an alternative location where there should still be room.
Can you use your Oyster Card to rent a bike?
No, unfortunately this is not possible (yet). Unfortunately, an Oyster Card can only be used on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line and the River Bus.
Is it safe to cycle in London?
London is a big and busy city and you also cycle on the wrong side of the street for your feelings. So yes, you have to be careful.
And it is precisely for this reason that the City of London has built up a network of cycle paths, the so-called Cycle Superhighways, where you can cycle safely through London from point A to point B.
I think the CS3 is the most important route for visitors. This route goes right through central London, along the Thames and all sorts of sights. You will pass the Tower of London, London Eye, Big Ben andHouses of Parliament and St. James’s Park and Hyde Park.
In a subsequent post I will go into these Cycle Superhighways, where they run and what you can see on these routes.
Are there any fun routes for cycling?
Which they sure are! TFL has put together three fun routes, the Hyde Park Loop, Royal Loop and the Thames Loop. These routes led you past the main sights.
Soon we will be testing whether we can cycle a complete route for €2.50 without being on the bike all the time. This will be sometime in the spring, when the weather becomes a little more pleasant. The route has yet to be determined, so do you have an idea or preference? Let us know via thecontact form.
What else do I need to take into account?
TFL has of course drawn up a laundry list of rules for the use of the Santander Cycles, which can be found on their website.
The most important rules I have taken out are the following:
- You can’t lock the bike if you’ve already brought a lock.
- The bike is not allowed to drop anywhere unsupervised.
- When the bike is wrong, a flat tire o.i.d. puts it back at a docking station and press the Fault button on the docking point within 10 seconds of placement. The bike is then registered for repair and you do not saddle someone else with it.
- If you do not return the bike, late or damaged,
Furthermore, it is useful to download the Santander Cycles app for iOS and Android. On the app you can see where docking stations are near you. But you can also rent a bike through this app when you register. You will then receive the unlock code for the bike in your app.