As well as buses, taxis, trains, the Underground, boats, and walking, London also offers another form of public transport. Since 2010, bicycles have been available for hire around the city. There are many docking stations, especially in the centre of the town, so, if you have to get somewhere within cycling distance, it is easy to just pick up a bike and ride over.
The system of cycle hires has been designed to be convenient and low-cost. There are many docking stations around the city, and you should pick a bicycle up from one of them and deposit it at one near your destination.
The bike should not be left unattended at any time, as you should secure it at a docking station before leaving it (you can always pick up another one later). If a bike is removed and not returned within 24 hours you will be charged £150 for it.
The system works on two ways, one of which is for members, who have a regular account, are UK residents and use the bikes all of the time. The other use is casual use, and this is intended for visitors to London, non-UK residents and people who do not wish to sign up as a member. For the purposes of visitors to London, casual use is by far better suited to their needs, and if you are only spending a few days or weeks in the capital that is the system you should use.
In order to use the casual use system you should take a credit or debit card to a docking station, each of which has a computer terminal. Touch the terminal screen, remembering to change language if necessary. Touch to hire a cycle and accept the privacy notice. You will then be asked to confirm the purchase on your card (at the time of writing this is £1 for 24 hours, and £5 for seven days). Accept the terms and conditions and insert your payment card. You can print a receipt at this point if you want.
Choose next whether you want to hire the bike now or later on, and the screen will confirm how much time is left in your access period. If you have chosen to hire the bike now, you will be given a five-digit cycle release code. You then have ten minutes to use the code to access one of the bikes at the docking station. If you do not use the code within ten minutes then it will expire and you will have to get a new one. When the code is accepted by the docking point the light will turn green and you can take out the bicycle.
Each code is only valid for one journey. In order to get another code you will have to insert the card used for payment into another docking station terminal. You can buy access for between one and four cycles, but you will need a unique cycle release code for each of them (provided when you insert your payment card).
If you are a confident cyclist, then the bike hire scheme offers a low-cost, convenient way of getting around the centre of London.