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who has used the London Santander/Barclay bike share network (aka "Boris Bikes")?

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who has used the London Santander/Barclay bike share network (aka "Boris Bikes")?

Old 04-06-16, 03:21 PM
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sunburst
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who has used the London Santander/Barclay bike share network (aka "Boris Bikes")?

formerly sponsored by Barclays, now by Santander.

I'll be in London in June for a week and want to use their bike share network to get around. I've used it in NYC and DC before with great utility. But researching the London system, I don't see a good iOS app to download, or even a website that is useful. The TfL website will list stations if you search a particular address but does not give relative distances. And surprisingly, at 10:00pm, very few stations have bikes.

I'm going to Paris first and their Velib' network looks good, and the app looks fairly useful. It will show you stations, and the number of bikes left. This was critical info in the two US cities I used bike share, especially when walking around in the dark in a strange city trying to find a station that may or may not have a bike, or available space to dock.

If anyone has any tips or advice, I'd love to hear it.

Bob
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Old 04-06-16, 03:52 PM
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I used it extensively for a week while I was there in 2013. I didn't use an app, but did use the website to find stations at the endpoints of my trips.

I was staying in Victoria, and there seemed to be lots of bikes available nearby all day long. In other parts of town I did have to walk to a further station a couple of times when the nearest one was depleted - usually later in the evening.

One thing I found most helpful was the local area maps posted at each station - getting lost in London is easy but if you can see a bike share station, you can get oriented quickly. Plus if you find yourself running overtime, it's easy to exchange bikes while checking the map. I found myself navigating from station to station for this reason and ended up seeing a lot of the city.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 04-07-16, 10:57 AM
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All of the main stations have loads of bikes, ignore the website. Distance??? Distance to what? Personally, i think they are a rip off, it's fine ( i guess ) for riding between stations, but can get expensive without the yearly pass & they are horrible to ride for long periods. A much better option is to hire a bromton, that way you just take the bike with you, rather than faf about every half hour docking & un docking.

Brompton's folding bikes are available for hire ? with new locations announced | Health News | Lifestyle | The Independent
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Old 04-07-16, 03:04 PM
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Distance from my hotel, right by the British Museum. And of course, distance to major tourist sites. I looked at the website today at 9am PST and 2pm and there were plenty of bikes. I'll check back later, but yesterday they were all gone by evening and well past midnight, GMT. I'm guessing they re-balance the stations, if at all, in the wee hours. I'll find out when I get there how well it works.

Yes, it is a pain changing bikes. I did it plenty in NYC and DC. But we really enjoyed seeing NYC by bike, and they have protected lanes up and down the avenues. That city spent the money and really made it work! The only bizarre thing, which I never got to the bottom of, is the bike network has a clear demarcation line, the southern boundary of Central Park. Great for lower Manhattan, but doesn't even work for a ride through the park and parts beyond. Politics, I assume.

Thx for the pointer to the Bromptom article. Wonder what happens if they get stolen? Guess I could pack or buy a U-lock once I'm there.

Originally Posted by sv500 View Post
All of the main stations have loads of bikes, ignore the website. Distance??? Distance to what? Personally, i think they are a rip off, it's fine ( i guess ) for riding between stations, but can get expensive without the yearly pass & they are horrible to ride for long periods. A much better option is to hire a bromton, that way you just take the bike with you, rather than faf about every half hour docking & un docking.

Brompton's folding bikes are available for hire ? with new locations announced | Health News | Lifestyle | The Independent

Last edited by sunburst; 04-07-16 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 04-08-16, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
Distance from my hotel, right by the British Museum. And of course, distance to major tourist sites. I looked at the website today at 9am PST and 2pm and there were plenty of bikes. I'll check back later, but yesterday they were all gone by evening and well past midnight, GMT. I'm guessing they re-balance the stations, if at all, in the wee hours. I'll find out when I get there how well it works.

Yes, it is a pain changing bikes. I did it plenty in NYC and DC. But we really enjoyed seeing NYC by bike, and they have protected lanes up and down the avenues. That city spent the money and really made it work! The only bizarre thing, which I never got to the bottom of, is the bike network has a clear demarcation line, the southern boundary of Central Park. Great for lower Manhattan, but doesn't even work for a ride through the park and parts beyond. Politics, I assume.

Thx for the pointer to the Bromptom article. Wonder what happens if they get stolen? Guess I could pack or buy a U-lock once I'm there.
Well there are docks right outside the Museum by the entrance, also Russel Sq tube station & on Bloomsbury St, so loads of docks by your hotel. Depends where you want to go, example you can walk to Buck' palace from the museum in around 40 mins. If you were to use a boris bike, sure it's quicker( say 15 min cycle ) , but you have to find a dock, closest is the other side of birdcage walk, so 5 mins if you know where you are going, if not well you be cycling around for 15 frustrating mins, which can eat up your 1/2 hour, thus making it a costly & frustrating experience.( the worst kind )

We have the "cycle superhighway", only some is protected though, most is just painted blue, which can lead to some deep breath moments, as in pic below.


The bromton is a take with you bike, so it never leaves you, i carry mine when not riding, never locked it, never needed to. The brompton can be taken to other cities too. If it gets stolen you lose your deposit, same as the boris bike. However, the brompton hire lockers aren't found in central london where you are based, so you would have to take a tube to the nearest locker, which may be too much hassel for you.
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Old 04-08-16, 10:21 AM
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yeah, I'm probably more comfortable in city traffic than I have any right to be. Will have to be extra careful in London, since my spidey sense may be thrown out-of-whack with traffic being reversed. Got a bad hip though, so can't walk very far. Cycling doesn't bother it nearly as much.

Originally Posted by HighDefintion View Post
Its a convenience but London is probably the worst city in UK to cycle. The drivers are fuc.... crazy

very familiar with this hunting for stations, and swapping bikes. I think an hour limit would increase the utility by a giant leap. Once we got the iPhone app in DC, finding stations with bikes was much easier. We got a feel for where the bikes where in NYC much quicker and didn't need the app as much.

Originally Posted by sv500 View Post
If you were to use a boris bike, sure it's quicker( say 15 min cycle ) , but you have to find a dock, closest is the other side of birdcage walk, so 5 mins if you know where you are going, if not well you be cycling around for 15 frustrating mins, which can eat up your 1/2 hour, thus making it a costly & frustrating experience.( the worst kind )

Last edited by sunburst; 04-08-16 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 06-22-16, 10:38 AM
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got back last week. yeah, I had to laugh when I saw a bike station just across the street from my hotel. We used them for 3-4 days and they worked pretty well, and we rode without using their sketchy iPhone ap. I ran into the opposite problem of empty racks. We kept riding up to stations that were full. I finally called the number because I couldn't get the 15-min time extension to work (because I kept entering my ticket number rather than the frame number). They were very helpful and patient over the phone, dealing with two stressed customers. It rained a fair bit during our week so we used the metro as well, and it was a marvel of complexity and efficiency. We've got nothing that compares in the SF Bay Area of 7 million.

I'm reposting this photo because it really captures, imo, the problem with cycling in London - narrow streets. I've now cycled in a number of cities: SF, NYC, DC, Paris, Barcelona, London. London was easily the most dangerous, and this photo shows one of the scenarios. The other is when a bus, taxi, etc stops in the left lane and another bus pulls around it. Many times it is absolutely clear that there is not room for two buses and a bike! I had to completely stop once or get squashed. And the speed of those buses is ridiculous in tight situations. They operate like sports cars through those tiny streets.

However, seeing London by bike was very nice when it wasn't raining. And these Salander bikes are the exact ones they use in NYC and DC. They are heavy with monster tires and a 3-speed, but roll incredibly well and smoothly over the various surfaces, cobbled or cracked pavement, etc.

Originally Posted by sv500 View Post
Well there are docks right outside the Museum by the entrance, also Russel Sq tube station & on Bloomsbury St, so loads of docks by your hotel. Depends where you want to go, example you can walk to Buck' palace from the museum in around 40 mins. If you were to use a boris bike, sure it's quicker( say 15 min cycle ) , but you have to find a dock, closest is the other side of birdcage walk, so 5 mins if you know where you are going, if not well you be cycling around for 15 frustrating mins, which can eat up your 1/2 hour, thus making it a costly & frustrating experience.( the worst kind )

We have the "cycle superhighway", only some is protected though, most is just painted blue, which can lead to some deep breath moments, as in pic below.


The bromton is a take with you bike, so it never leaves you, i carry mine when not riding, never locked it, never needed to. The brompton can be taken to other cities too. If it gets stolen you lose your deposit, same as the boris bike. However, the brompton hire lockers aren't found in central london where you are based, so you would have to take a tube to the nearest locker, which may be too much hassel for you.
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