You can explore London in different ways. Of course on foot, with the tube or bus or even with the river bus. But go cycling!
Transport for London (TFL) has set up an extensive network of rental bikes since 2010, the Santander Cycles. Also called “Boris Bikes”, after Boris Johnson who was mayor of London at the time of the introduction and also liked to go to work by bike. There are around 11,500 bicycles divided over 750 collection points, the so-called docking stations. You can take a bike at the docking stations throughout the city or return it. And the great thing is, it’s super cheap!
How does it work?
Go to a docking station in the area where there are sufficient bicycles. You can check this in the Santander Cycles app, this app can also indicate an alternative location if the bicycles at a certain location are all temporarily borrowed.
- At the central post you pay with your credit card, such as Mastercard, Visa or American Express.
- You will receive a receipt with an unlock code for the bike.
- Pick a bike and enter the unlock code, if the green light is on you can take the bike out. Note that there is no red light on a bicycle, because the bicycle is registered as a defect. The bike is then picked up by Santander Cycles maintenance service to be repaired.
- Set your saddle at the correct height and you can start cycling!
Jullian McDonnell (Joolz) legt het even heel duidelijk uit hoe het werkt.
Also visit Joolz Guides for more fun video’s of London!
What does it cost?
The use of the bicycle costs around € 2.50 per day and the first half hour is free. Each following half hour also costs € 2.50.
But when you return the bike to a docking station before the 30 minutes are up and wait 5 minutes, you can pick up a bike again 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 all day through London for € 2.50.
If you come to a docking station where there is no free space anymore and your free 30 minutes are almost over, you can press a button on the central pole that the dock station is full. You then get extra time to reach an alternative location where there should still be room.
You can use your Oyster Card to rent a bike?
No, unfortunately this is not (yet) possible. 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 feel that you are also cycling on the wrong side of the street. So yes you have to be careful.
And this is precisely why the city of London has built a network of cycle paths, the so-called Cycle Superhighways, where you can safely cycle through London from point A to point B.
I think the CS3 is the most important route for visitors. This route goes through the center of London, past the Thames and all kinds of sights. You will pass by the Tower of London, London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament and you will pass through St. James’s Park and Hyde Park.
In a next post I will elaborate on these Cycle Superhighways, where they run and what you can see on these routes.
Are there also nice routes for cycling?
They sure are there! TFL has compiled three great routes, the Hyde Park Loop, Royal Loop and the Thames Loop. These routes led you past the most important sights. The folder with all three routes can be found here. For other route ideas look here.
We will soon be testing whether it will be possible to cycle a complete route for € 2.50 without sitting 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 the contact form.
What else do I have to take into account?
TFL has of course drawn up a list of rules for the use of the Santander Cycles, which you can find on their website.
The most important rules that I have removed are the following:
- You may not lock the bike if you had already taken a lock.
- The bicycle may not be parked without supervision.
- If there is a defect in the bike, a flat tire or the like, put it back at a docking station and press the Fault button on the docking point within 10 seconds after installation. The bicycle is then registered for repair and you do not saddle anyone else with it.
- If you cannot return the bicycle, it is too 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 in your area. But you can also rent a bike when you register via this app. You will then receive the unlock code for the bike in your app.