Senior citizen wants discount on London cycle hire scheme

Transport for London says no for now

Artist's impression of a docking system from London's public bike hire scheme

Senior Citizen Ol Rappaport has written to his London Assembly Member to say that senior citizens deserve a discount on the London Cycle Hire scheme, due to launch on 30 July.


Mr Rappaport said, “Given that I can swim for free to encourage me to keep active, wouldn’t it also make sense to encourage me to cycle around Central London?”

It has also been pointed out that, like many other UK pensioners up and down the country, Mr Rappaport is a Freedom Pass holder, allowing free use of off-peak buses. A fact that underlines his point that paying full rates for London Cycle Hire is unfair.  

Unfortunately for Mr Rappaport, Transport for London (TfL) shows no signs of being swayed. “This may be a possibility in the future but it is not planned at the start of the launch,” they said in response.  

Under current rules users must pay a registration fee (£1 per day, £5 per week or £45 per year), after which hire is free for the first 30 minutes, but charged after this, becoming increasingly expensive the longer the hire period. For example 1 hour will cost £1 and two hours £6.

The scheme is run on a different financial model to ones such as Paris’s Velib where operators JC Decaux recoup some operating costs from advertising hoarding rights granted by the city. London scheme operators Serco are being paid by TfL to install the system and hope to recoup costs from hire fees.

Barry Sayer, Chief Executive of the firm that runs Barcelona’s  bike hire scheme, Clear Channel, said: “I’ve never seen a scheme that has paid enough to justify not having advertising.”


Although hailed overwhelmingly as a positive move, other criticisms of the scheme have been voiced. These include the fact it only covers Central London (travel zone 1) – leading to accusations that it is really just a scheme aimed at tourists – that no locks are provided with the bikes (how to nip into a shop for example en route?), that it is not Oyster Card compatible, and that there will be no docking stations outside railway stations.