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  1. #1
    Member Tourfan's Avatar
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    London Bike Hire Scheme

    London is proposing to introduce a bike hire scheme like the one in Paris, where bikes on stands are available for hire by passers-by.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...-boris-johnson

    I suspect the bikes will all be destroyed/disappeared within a month - but still it's nice to see the concept of travel by bike moving up in the world.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Chromavita's Avatar
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    I haven't heard much about the French system ever since the first generation or so of articles. Is France having any major problems with vandalism/theft? And I though the UK completely eradicated vandalism and theft when they installed all those CCTV cameras .

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    I figure if you put some up at wood street in walthamstow they will last no more than 30 seconds...I am being generous.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Boston is thinking about it too.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  5. #5
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    Should I try it?

    I'm going to London in March. I have a free Sunday before going to the office on Monday and have been studying this: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14808.aspx

    Anyone have any tips for a yank trying to pull this off?

  6. #6
    Junior Member tassinari's Avatar
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    havent tried it myself as i live 250 miles away but i've heard its a big success with very few bikes stolen or vandalised. I'd encourage you to give it a try. Enjoy your trip to sunny England!

  7. #7
    comin' in hot James1:17's Avatar
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    does austin still have its yellow bikes?
    smooth and fast?

  8. #8
    Randomhead
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    the yellow bike systems don't seem to work that well because the bikes are not tracked at all. The public bike systems know who you are before you take the bike, and they know if you brought it back

  9. #9
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Minnepolis put in a system last summer that was apparently pretty successful. Even though I have my own bike I became a member (for a reduced rate of $45 a year). I figured there are times when I'm downtown and don't have a bike that it may come in handy. Mostly I just wanted to support the system.

    I was worried that vandalism and theft would be a major problem but not so far. They're not that easy to steel and if you did there's not much you could do with one. They're unique enough looking that you wouldn't be able to sell it to somebody else.

  10. #10
    Member Tourfan's Avatar
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    The bikes are pretty heavy, but it works quite well. The biggest problem is trying to find a place to dock at your destination, as the docks in the popular parts of the centre ("downtown" for you, according to the very little I know of US cities!) fill up quickly - people use them for commuting.

    Try posting on here: http://www.borisbikes.co.uk/. Lots of people there who use the scheme a lot and will help you out!

  11. #11
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    Minnepolis put in a system last summer that was apparently pretty successful. Even though I have my own bike I became a member (for a reduced rate of $45 a year). I figured there are times when I'm downtown and don't have a bike that it may come in handy. Mostly I just wanted to support the system.

    I was worried that vandalism and theft would be a major problem but not so far. They're not that easy to steel and if you did there's not much you could do with one. They're unique enough looking that you wouldn't be able to sell it to somebody else.
    I agree. The program has been quite successful.
    https://www.niceridemn.org/

    Aside from the outrageous design and appearance (apparently to prevent theft and blackmarket appeal) they appear to be reasonable quality bikes. I see them all over town. Haven't ridden one yet.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
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  12. #12
    Member Tourfan's Avatar
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    @ bergerandfries

    Saw you across on the borisbikes forum. Did you end up using the bikes in London? How did you find them, and cycling in London generally?

  13. #13
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    If the bikes don't get stolen in France, for Heaven's sake, why would they get stolen in England?

    That being said, I've always wondered about these programs. Who maintains the bikes? Who keeps the tires pumped up and flats fixed? I mean, every day that I ride I have to touch up my tire pressure. What about proper fitting - seat height and such? Would a customer of one of these programs have to carry around a pump, flat-fixing tools, and wrenches?

    Just wondering, but how does this work?
    Steel Club = BF-STL-00064

  14. #14
    Member Tourfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    If the bikes don't get stolen in France, for Heaven's sake, why would they get stolen in England?

    That being said, I've always wondered about these programs. Who maintains the bikes? Who keeps the tires pumped up and flats fixed? I mean, every day that I ride I have to touch up my tire pressure. What about proper fitting - seat height and such? Would a customer of one of these programs have to carry around a pump, flat-fixing tools, and wrenches?

    Just wondering, but how does this work?
    I can't pretend to be an expert on criminal proclivities of the French vs the English! Normal bikes in central London get stolen a lot - sadly, it's often a multiple locks/pitlocks/carry-your-saddle-with-you kind of place.

    But the hire bikes haven't been stolen much at all - the result of them being not worth stealing. They weigh a good 25kg (ie 50 lb)! Plus they are pretty conspicuous, with the sponsor's name emblazoned all over them.

    You're right, the scheme isn't self-funding - the fees paid by users don't cover the cost of the bikes or of maintaining them. The scheme is sponsored by one of the large banks (whose name in return is splashed all over the bikes). An external logistics firm, Serco, has a contract to run the scheme, which includes maintaining the bikes, and shunting them around from areas of low demand to areas of high demand.

    There is a button you can press at the hiring stations to report something wrong with a bike (like low tyre pressure, brakes don't work, lights don't work, etc). I suspect they also go through some sort of routine maintenance though I don't know the exact details.

    The whole scheme is designed for short journeys - to give you an idea, the "free" rental period (no extra charge over the annual registration fee) is 30 minutes. It's meant to be for short hops, for people to get from A to B in central London, rather than for a leisurely day out.

    Given the intended use, en route maintenance is less of an issue. If you do get a puncture en route, you would just walk it to the next docking station and report it, and someone else fixes it. (You can't actually fix punctures yourself, as you need special tools to get the wheels out - so people can't nick them.)

    The scheme is certainly not perfect - frequent users have all sorts of gripes. Its greatest achievement may be to show people how practical cycling is as a mode of transport, so they decide to go out and buy their own bikes.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Ahh, I see. Thanks for the information - I've wondered how that all works ever since I started hearing about these programs.

    Regarding my remark about the French vs. the English, I personally know only two couples who were victims of muggings while on vacation, and both times it happened in Paris!
    Steel Club = BF-STL-00064

  16. #16
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    DaVinci Cycles got together with some development groups and came up with the Bixi design here in Canada. They started with 3,000 bikes and 400 depos in Montreal and are spreading to other cities. As far as I know they have a tracking device built in, but if that wasn`t enough p its a credit card system that makes the client responsible for the bike until it gets locked up at the next depot. That and the basic design of the bike probably keeps theft to a minimum. Usability of parts on any other bikes besides a Bixi is pretty much zero.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourfan View Post
    @ bergerandfries

    Saw you across on the borisbikes forum. Did you end up using the bikes in London? How did you find them, and cycling in London generally?
    I fly out tomorrow! Sunday will by my test run (assuming I can find a bike, which I think I should on a Sunday in Bloomsbury).

  18. #18
    That gives him a hobby
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    Here's my thoughts so far:
    The bikes are easy to rent (when there are bikes in the rack to rent, that is) and work well as long as 10mph is your top intended speed. Bikes weigh in around 50lbs easy, but have a nice 3 spd internal hub, so you can spin as easy or as hard as you want. Having no helmet doesn't feel that great, but the lower speed helps me rationalize it a bit. In the late morning, all the bikes by the train/tube stations are gone, and end up filling up the racks at the business centers such that it can be hard to find a rack to return the bike! Same in the evening except reversed, so you had better rise early and leave work a bit early if you want a bicycle. That said, I think it a HUGE sign of success that the cycles are hitting 100% utilization in many areas of the city. Time to make the thing bigger, if you ask me. Problem is that it doesn't really pay for itself does it, and Barclay's will have to dig out their check book if they need to increase it?

    Cheers!

  19. #19
    Member Tourfan's Avatar
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    @bergerandfries

    I suspect the scheme will always struggle to strike a balance between the commuters and the casual users, in terms of bike distribution (and the phenomenon you noticed of the empty docks near stations in the mornings and vice versa in the evenings!). It's nice to see more people out on bikes anyway - and you caught some rare nice weather here!

    The bikes are "well built" though, are they! You can see why they don't get stolen.

  20. #20
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    If the bikes don't get stolen in France, for Heaven's sake, why would they get stolen in England?

    That being said, I've always wondered about these programs. Who maintains the bikes? Who keeps the tires pumped up and flats fixed? I mean, every day that I ride I have to touch up my tire pressure. What about proper fitting - seat height and such? Would a customer of one of these programs have to carry around a pump, flat-fixing tools, and wrenches?

    Just wondering, but how does this work?
    Can't speak for paris, but in lyon there are guys that ride around pulling a trailer that fix the bikes and keep them in working order. Lyon was the first french city to have bike sharing and the city saw a 500% increase in cyclists the first year. Good thing as before lyon was not bike friendly.
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

  21. #21
    dazed and confused newkie's Avatar
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    Dublin also introduced this about a year or two ago. It's been very successful. I think I heard the parts are bespoke (pun intended) so they're useless to theives unless they own a dublinbike themselves.

    http://www.dublinbikes.ie/

  22. #22
    That gives him a hobby
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    One parting recommendation for folks from USA doing this: LEAVE your credit card in the reader until the screen confirms it read your card. If you try to swipe too fast, it won't read right or will take a long time to respond.

  23. #23
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Actually the ones in France only work with cards that have the chip in them. Bummer for americans as most of ours do not have this.
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

  24. #24
    That gives him a hobby
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
    Actually the ones in France only work with cards that have the chip in them. Bummer for americans as most of ours do not have this.
    Indeed! I fear that the next trip overseas that my credit cards will not work! Next time I'm on the phone with my credit companies, I'm going to ask for cards that work overseas with the chip. Hopefully that's an option that they can offer me.

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