It’s been tried several times before in UK citites and never worked, but now the Oybike company (On Your Bike, naturally) believe that they’ve cracked bike pooling.
The company, the brianchild of Bernie Hanning, is using mobile phone technology to run the scheme which they are currently trialling in Hammersmith and Fulham. To use the scheme you pay a £10 annual fee to register with your mobile phone and address details. You are then given a code to key in to release one of the bikes from one of the first 28 rental stations – currently by places like tube and train stations, theatres and cinemas. Charges start at 30p for fifteen minutes and rises to £2 for the hour and £8 for eight hours. Cunningly the bikes are chainless to keep suit wearers clean and happy.
In the past such bike sharing / rental schemes in UK cities have flopped. One scheme for free bike share in Cambridge, for example, foundered when all the bikes were gradually stolen before being repainted and sold. General wear and tear and vandalism are also issues, but in the three weeks that the scheme has been running Mr Hanning said this hadn’t really been a problem. “There were a few tyres let down and some bell caps taken but that’s about all,” he told the BBC.
Successful bike pooling schemes are run elsewhere, like Smart Bike in France and the DeutscheBahn bike hire scheme in Germany, which also uses mobile phone technology. But as to whether users and the general public are equally community-minded in London, well, the jury’s still out…
Check here for Oybike locations.