The London bike rental revolution
One of the key measures of a cycle friendly city is cycling integration, and one of the key measures of cycling integration is the number of cycle related facilities including bike hire. Bike hire is not just for the benefit of visitors to a city, but also essential for residents who either are looking to start cycling or may have their bicycle in repair. Or God forbid, stolen!, that's only happened to me 3 times in London so far! As the first part in our Cycling Trends series, we talk about the changes in bicycle hire and best places to hire a bike in London.
Gone are the days that cycle hire required an excruciating amount of forward planning and documentation – enough to put anyone off, but these days it can be quick and simple, in fact, to hire a Santander city bike it can take just 1 minute or the same amount of time it would take to buy a train ticket, and all you need is a credit card!
The rise of flexible and easy bike rentals in London is definitely an indication of the cities growing bike-friendliness. Just today I received a notice from my local council (Hackney) with detailed plans to improve cycling safety through removing speed bumps and flattening a road near my house. They call it traffic calming, a term I quite like.
If you want to hire a bike in London, I think the best option for flexible use and short trips is the Santander bike hire. But if you want to go on a longer ride and take your bicycle on a train to explore greater London then hire-by-the-day options may be better. You also don’t need to sacrifice your look if you are a visitor to a city. If you are a hipster fixed-gear kind of person, Cloud Nine Cycles is located in central London and remove all elements of decision-making by only offerring one type of bike.
The fantastic variation and choice out there for bicycle hire is also great. For example, if you want to take someone out for a ride who normally is in a wheelchair, you can hire a recumbent bike from London Recumbents. They also hire out cargo bikes to pile the kids in or tandems. They are based in South London – Dulwich or Battersea. One of the great additions to the bicycle hire options is Electric Bike rentals, where you can experience a ride around town with a fraction of the physical exertion. A great idea if you are riding with a group of people with differing levels of fitness.
Here is a summary of our favourite bike hire options available in and around London.
Cloud Nine Cycles
Single speed, fixed gear. This hire company is located in central London and in true hipster attitude, there is only one size so this will make your decision easy at £25 / day.
Launched in 2011. Bromptons are expensive to buy lets face it, but register online https://www.bromptonbikehire.com and you can hire one for a tiny £2.50 per day. Once you have registered you can also reserve a bike online or by text. There are 40 docking stations (or Brompton lockers) in 25 UK towns and cities, with a fleet of 950 Brompton bikes.
Santander Bike Hire
(Boris bikes) Hire of the Santander sponsored bikes costs £2 for access and further £2 every half-an-hour after the first 30 minutes. The bikes cover most of the central London areas and the bikes suit a wide range of different needs. It's the easiest way to get around for shorter trips around town. The app is also great for finding your nearest docking station.
This company specialise in bicycles for cyclists with special needs. The bikes are also great for families and anyone wanting to try out something completely different.
Electric bike rentals: at £39/day You can also rent electric bikes from based in London Bridge. The website also has a lot of information on the best London sites to take in on the bike, and great information on riding in London
Tallyho Cycles is near waterloo station. Here you can hire traditional British bicycles such as Pashley, retro tandems and restored classic bikes. Prices are a bit higher at £40 per day but the bikes are varied and give you an authentic London feel.
The London Bicycle Tour company, located between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges at Gabriel’s Wharf the central location makes it easy to hire and return. The variety of bikes is wide from ladies and hybrid to kids bikes, the whole family can find the best bike for them. Prices are approximately £24 / day.
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Jacqui Ma is a trend forecaster and founder of Goodordering, East London bag company.