The usual daily charge to hire a bike from TfL’s cycle hire scheme normally costs £2 per day, but it can be as low as 25p if you don’t mind paying upfront.
This is the annual pass, which costs £120 upfront, but even if a person only uses a hire bike, for example, three days a week, it takes just three months for the annual pass to start saving you money.
Without the annual pass, that same person cycling three days per week would pay over £300 – so that example cyclist would save about £180 on the cost of hiring a bike.
There’s another benefit, in that the annual pass comes with a small red key that lets you unlock a bike without needing to request an unlock code from the display terminal next to the bikes – saving about 2 minutes each time you grab a bike.
I’ve been using the key for years, mainly for the money saving but partially for the convenience, and was only prompted to write this article after chatting to a fellow hire bike user who saw me using the key the other day and asked about it, not knowing it would save so much money as well.
There’s also the opportunistic use that not worrying about paying £2 to grab a bike for a short hop that you were expecting to walk or use public transport. As I don’t really think about the daily hire cost, I am far more likely to just grab a bike as and when I see one without pondering if I really want to pay £2 just to cycle a few streets.
Now I just pop the red key in and grab the bike. And that then saves me money on a bus ticket as well.
Apart from the annual charge, so long as each cycling trip is under 30 minutes, then you won’t pay anything extra to use the cycle hire bikes.
Register for the annual key here.
NHS staff get free daily rentals of cycle hire bikes, and students aged 18+ can get 25% off the annual charge.
If you’re using a Santander Cycle to get to work, the City Bike Hire scheme can save you up to £37.80 through tax-free yearly membership with your employer.