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“Wonderful Bike Scheme” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Santander Cycles

Santander Cycles
London, England (Formerly Barclays Cycle Hire) (Westminster)
+44 343 222 6666
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Ranked #13 of 31 Transportation in London
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Owner description: You can hire a bike from as little as £2. Simply go to any docking station with your bank card and touch the screen to get started. There's no need to book - hire a bike, ride it where you like, then return it to any docking station.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Wonderful Bike Scheme”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2013

Stayed at the Travelodge in Drury Lane last week and hired two bikes just down the road. Hiring was very easy and the instructions easy to follow.

We cycled down to the Embankment, along to Westminster Bridge and back along the South Bank. The bikes were in excellent condition and brakes and gears were very good.

The only problem was that we couldn't get rid of them! We took an hour finding a stand with two free places.

This was a pretty major problem as it was freezing cold and we had had enough cycling. We met a regular user who sent us back over the Thames to where he thought we would find spaces, and we did. He said he would wait at the Godliman Road stand for 15 minutes to see if any spaces became free - not a good outcome.

Great scheme but had a pretty major drawback on a freezing cold day in March! We didn't have the 'phone app - next time will be prepared better. I hope it is interactive. We would certainly do it again.

Visited March 2013
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Bristol, United Kingdom
17 reviews 17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Simply the best way to see London”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

Its quicker than almost any form of transport. And if you use the excellent free TfL cycle maps you'll discover parts of London, and shops and pubs and restaurants, in the quieter back roads that you'd never otherwise see. Pretty crucial to have the (e.g.) iPhone app that shows and directs you to the available bikes and slots.
Strongly recommend cycling the canal tow path from Paddington via Regents Park and Camden Lock to St Pancras (and beyond to Olympic Park if you have time and the weather is nice.

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“OK for short trips if you've time for plenty of hassle”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

I tried the bikes for the first time last week.

I entered my credit card details at the docking station terminal and wondered how I was to release the bike. I thought I must have made a mistake so went through the convoluted process again. And again. Eventually, I telephoned the service centre and after some diagnostics, they apologised because the terminal had run out of paper to print the release code. Could I get to another docking station? I could and I had to because I was now in severe danger of being late for my appointment.

At the next station I managed to get the release code printed and entered the code into the, very worn, keypad on the bay. It makes no sound and I was dubious that my finger presses were doing much but I got a green light and tried to release the bike. Nothing.

I tried again and now, really forcibly, had to tug the bike from the bay and it came.
I had a twenty minute ride, which was fine. The bike itself was very robustly built and quite comfortable (easy to adjust the seat height and it accommodated my 6' 3" with a little to spare). The lights came on automatically. There are three gears but you'd need to be very unfit and cycling up Amwell Street or other steep hill to need the first one. Not the fastest bike but OK.
However, when I got to my destination, there were no spaces available to dock the bike.
Fortunately, I had looked at the docking stations map before I left my home, and cycled over to find the alternate one and ran back to the theatre and just made it in time to see the show I had booked.

When I came out I got a bike from the docking station nearest to the theatre OK but when I got to my home neighbourhood, there were three docking stations fully occupied and I had to ring the customer services to find out where I could leave the bike. They referred me to a station nearly a mile from where I was going. Luckily, as I was setting off, a Barclays Bike maintenance vehicle pulled up and an operative got out to take a broken bike away for repair thereby vacating a space.

The next day, still within the same twenty four hour access charging period, I took a bike from near Victoria Station and intended to ride it to near Kings Cross station. Even though this would be considered a moderate journey, there just wasn't time to complete it in the allotted 30 minutes on these bikes. I could have paid extra and had the bike for longer. Or I could have docked the bike at an intermediate station and waited for five minutes before continuing with another bike. In the event I decided to dock the bike in Clerkenwell and walk the rest of the way.

However, there was only one bay available at the docking station and it wouldn't accept the bike. I tried several times. There wasn't time to take the bike to another docking station. Usually if the station is full you can interact with the terminal, whilst hanging unto the unwieldy bike and re-inserting your credit card, and get a 15 minute extension, but this terminal obviously thought there was still an available space.

I rang the service centre again (my third call in this 24 hour period - lucky I had a functional mobile phone with me) and was advised by the operator to hold the bike up off the ground and literally slam it into the docking station. After the third attempt, this brute force technique worked.

Coming back the other way, I still had about a mile to go before the 30 minutes was up and so decided to dock the bike in a bay at Westminster. The docking station was full, but this time it worked in my favour as I got a 15 minute extension to continue the journey to the station I would have started my hire from the night before and docked in the last remaining bay.

The advantages of the scheme: You get to ride around Central London on a bike, someone else maintains, potentially for as little as £2 (plus phone charges) for any 24 hour period. You need a credit card, lots of time (and the patience to go with it) and a mobile phone. If something goes wrong, you could be paying more. I think the maximum is £300.
The disadvantages of the scheme: It's not really intended for any real journey. A cynic might say it is more for squealing tourists to awkwardly get in the way of Londoners trying to go about their business. The docking stations taking up space that might be used to provide somewhere for regular cyclists to put their bikes (they are instead forced to obstruct pavements by locking their bikes to sign posts and other street fixtures) or motorists to put their cars.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed but would use the bikes again if I was desperate.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
220 reviews 220 reviews
85 attraction reviews
Reviews in 83 cities Reviews in 83 cities
151 helpful votes 151 helpful votes
“Such Fun !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2013

My partner and I used the bikes on a Sunday morning, it was fantastic to cycle around Hyde Park and the Mall (closed to traffic on Sundays). Before we knew it 2 hours had passed and we will definitely do it again on a return visit to London.

The keypads are sometimes worn and won't accept your code, so you have to find another which does. Also if you find the docking bay full and have to locate another one before your time runs out, it can be a bit frustrating but hey, it all adds to the fun !

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“A great way to see London”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2013 via mobile

There were four of us visiting London and decided to try the barclays bikes and ride through the parks. We had a fantastic time and a real good laugh. We found the cycle ways very safe and found no need to use any busy roads. It would be slightly better if the instructions on how to register were clearer however once this was sorted it became clear and was quite straight forward. We will definitely do this again and would recommend.

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