Cycling Right: Using London’s Cycle Hire Scheme

18 February, 2018

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on travelling in London, held in collaboration with different hotels in London.

If you’re a keen cyclist, you’ll be only too aware there’s nothing that affords you a feeling of refreshing freedom like taking to the open road on two wheels, experiencing the rush of wind in your hair as you propel yourself along – delighted you’re not stuck behind the wheel like so many of those fossil-fuel-using motorists on four wheels. And that very sensation’s achievable in the Big Smoke thanks to the UK capital’s excellent city-wide Santander Cycles bike hire scheme.

Boasting more than 11,000 bikes in circulation at any one time, all of them available to hire 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and with no prior booking – as well as 750 different docking stations at which to pick one up and to which to return it – it’s a scheme that, since its introduction just a few short years ago, has proved a roaring success with both locals and visitors from wherever in the world they hail.

london cycling

Renting a bike

So, to start with, picking up a Santander Cycle really is easy-as-pie. Simply locate your nearest docking station (you’ll be able to find it by downloading the scheme’s official mobile app and – wherever you’re staying in the city, like at, say, the hotel London City Suites by Montcalm – you’ll find one very nearby) and release the cycle for use and pay for it via your debit or credit, using the docking station’s touch screen.


Presently, you can hire a bike at a rate of £2 every 30 minutes within a 24-hour-period (it’s free for the first 30 minutes of that cycle hire, though. Moreover, it’s possible to hire up to four bikes at once – great if you’re staying with the family at one of the hotels near Chiswell Street London; but you will require a separate release code at the docking station for each bike used – note, each code’s only valid for 10 minutes and at that single docking station.


Many of the safety recommendations for using a Santander Cycles bike come down to common sense, but nonetheless it’s worthwhile taking note of them. First up, for your financial safety you’re highly advised to ensure nobody sees your release code – or anything else – as you’re using a docking station’s keypad. As for when you’re actually using a cycle, remember not to ride on the pavement or up a one-way street (unless marked for cyclists), always stop at red lights and be sure to employ the correct hand signals when turning either left or right. Always maintain a safe distance between your bike and a vehicle in front of you and be aware of the possibility, when passing parked vehicles, of their doors suddenly opening. And, of course, don’t use a mobile phone or headphones while cycling.

Returning a bike

As noted, when you’re done using a Santander Cycle, you must return it to a docking station – again, find the nearest to your location at that point via the scheme’s official app. Nice and simple. However, should you return it late or damaged then bear in mind you may be charged anything up to £300 as a fine. Aside from that, happy cycling!

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

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