The throng of bikes on Sunday’s London Hovis Freewheel was liberally sprinkled with distinctive yellow and green hire cycles from a London firm called OyBike.
The company has about 110 bikes, which it rents from automated points in Hammersmith and Fulham, as well as elsewhere in the UK, including Southampton and Reading. A trial scheme is currently underway in Manchester. OyBike is also talking to Oxford Brookes University about the possibility of making the schemes available for students in the bike friendly city.
Adam Garrett, from OyBike, joined the company six months ago after seeing a cycle hire scheme in the French city of Lyon and then tracking down the UK firm and offering his services.
Speaking at the company’s stand on The Mall, he told Bikeradar.com: “OyBike has been going for about three years in Hammersmith and Fulham and it’s starting to expand within the London area. Bike hire is an amazing area.”
As with cycle hire schemes in European cities like Paris and Barcelonathe OyBike service requires users to register beforehand.
They can then unlock a bike from a stand by calling a local rate number and getting a release code texted to their mobile phone. A combination for the bike’s integral lock is also sent, allowing users to lock up the bike if needed.
The first half hour ride is free and after that, hire costs £2 an hour for a maximum of eight hours. Once that period has expired the bike is available at no extra cost for the remainder of 24 hours.
The bikes are sturdy beasts, with shaft drives instead of chains, three gears, Dynamo lights, a small basket on the front and a carrier at the back.
OyBike is currently waiting to hear whether Transport for London confirm plans for a bike rental scheme across the capital, after Mayor Ken Livingstone recently announced he was interested in making a bike rental scheme work in London.
If the project goes ahead it’s likely either OyBike or JC Decaux, which runs Paris’ Velib scheme, will get the contract.