Well, it was a revelation to be able to cycle around the local neighbourhoods like St Johns Wood, Marylebone and Paddington over the weekend and go to see relatives in Kensington through Hyde Park, but the reality is this cycle hire option doesn’t exist for most Londoners living in the suburbs and it can get expensive very quickly.
For those of us who live in West Central London, the Barclays Cycle hire scheme allows us an additional option to take journeys we would normally do by foot, bus and tube as we go about our daily lives like going to the post office, bank and leisure facilities, but when l really could have done with a bike was when I went to a wedding on Sunday night in Syon Park & to get there from Syon Lane rail station, l fell back on walking again! Thus it will have to be expanded greatly into the suburbs if it is actually going to make a real difference to the vast majority of Londoners lives who may want to use the bikes to make trips to the local train station.
The cost of the scheme will exclude many potential users, as it costs £45 for the annual subscription, for which you need a credit card, then it’s a further £3 for the key. Admittedly the first half hour is free, but after that it gets very expensive rather too quickly; and it falls down on convenience by not being Oyster compatible yet.
Finally, it still has teething problems; some of it’s cycle stations are not even built yet, for example the one in front of Paddington Green Police station, some cycle stations are not releasing their bikes, as I found out today at Frampton St station on the Edgware Road, and e-mail messages of free travel on Saturday have not materialised as TfL state this only applied for the first day of its operations.
So we still have some way to go before it becomes an integral part of Londoners’ lives.