London bike scheme: Cyclists' stories

Image caption BBC News website reader Patrizio Romagnoli with a bike

A new bicycle-rental programme has been launched in London.

Tourists, residents and commuters can all pay to use the bikes, six-thousand of which will be available at four-hundred docking stations across London by the end of the year.

BBC News website readers have been saddling up and testing the new bikes.

Richard Gough, Hackney

I used one of the bikes today. I used to cycle to work quite regularly but there's nowhere for me to keep a bike, so this is very convenient. The system works well - the bike was very easy to use; solid but responsive.

I plan to use the bikes as a complement to my travel card. Lots of my colleagues who commute in plan to use the bikes daily though.

The only nagging thing was that it felt a bit strange not using a helmet every day. I'm only going to use the bikes on an ad hoc basis so it's not really worth me carrying a helmet.

Tim Lidbetter, Waterloo

I used one of the bikes this morning. The system is quick and easy to understand, but the bike is a bit clunky and low-geared, not to mention heavy. Ludgate Hill never seemed this steep when I was walking!

This seems like a good idea, given the hopelessness of public transport between Waterloo and my office. It takes a while to walk, so anything with wheels is a novelty.

The big problem is finding a docking station though. Many of them are tucked away in side-streets, and the map issued by Transport for London (TFL), is not very accurate and includes some non-existent stations. I tried to find the docking station marked near St Thomas' hospital, and it wasn't there!

Bruce Tiplady, Marylebone

I tried to get a bike out at Paddington station, with no success.

I'd paid a £3 deposit for the key and £1 for 24-hour access. When I got off the train at Paddington, I went across all the bikes in the bank of the docking station but couldn't make the key work for any of them.

I did check online and saw that £1 had been deducted from my account. The system showed that I had access up until 9am on Saturday, so I don't know why my key wasn't working.

Fortunately I did eventually manage to get a bike out at Marylebone station, but it does seem a bit of a shame. I'm a really keen cyclist and I want this system to work.

Steve Catchpole, Pimlico

I used the bike to get to work today. It was absolutely brilliant - very easy to use and a smooth ride. I rode from Pimlico to the City, which took about 20 minutes.

I registed for the scheme on Monday with no problems and received the map from TFL, which showed me where I could dock at the other end. I also had a back-up plan in case the docking bay was full (which it was). But I put my key in to the bay at Southwark Bridge and got an extra 15 minutes to find another station.

I don't have a bike, although I used to cycle everywhere when I was a lad. So I'm quite keen on this new system and I plan to use it every day.

Adam Fuller, Kennington

I picked up a bike in Kennington to ride about two miles to Bloomsbury. I normally use my own bike to do this every day. Because there's a docking station where I live and where I work and the journey is short, it could make sense for me to pay the annual hire fee. So I was willing to give it a try.

The bike felt like Boris Johnson was sitting on the back, it was incredibly hard to pedal. I believe there may have been a fault with it - the wheels didn't spin very freely. It was as if the brakes were stuck on.

I parked the bike up at a docking station in Aldwych, about half-way to my destination as I could barely make it over Waterloo bridge. There was a TFL representative at the docking station handing out feedback forms, who said that several other people had made the same comment so I don't think I was the only one.

I will try it again tonight, but I'll check the bike before I take it out of the docking station.