Renting a bike through Santander Cycles, London’s bike-share program, costs £2 per day, but like with most bike-share programs, cyclists must return their bike to a docking station every 30 minutes to avoid incurring extra charges. Now a different sort of bike-share company aims to bring more of an Airbnb-style approach to bike-sharing to the capital city, City A.M. reports.
Cycle.land launched in Oxford last spring, and is now expanding to London, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh and Cambridge. The platform allows people to borrow bikes from local individuals and vendors, who set their own prices and date ranges. There are cargo bikes for rent, folding bikes, cruisers, road bikes, bikes for kids, bikes with trailers and even a unicycle. Listings range from £0.50 per day up to at least £15. In addition to the variety of prices and styles, there’s also less time pressure than with Santander Cycles, often called “Boris bikes” in reference to former London Mayor Boris Johnson.
“Given the payment structure, Boris bike users rent the bikes for short periods of maybe 30 to 60 minutes and then return them to the next station,” said Cycle.land founder Agne Milukaite. “In Oxford, we see that Cycle.land users often take out bikes for three days or more, with some of our members borrowing the bikes for as long as three months.”
Still, she told City A.M. the plan is to supplement Boris bikes, not replace them. “Initially, we will launch in East London where there are no Boris bike stations,” she said. “Later, we aim to also have Cycle.land bikes provided at heavily used Boris bike routes.” The company has launched a £100,000 campaign on crowdfunding site Seedrs to raise capital for its expansion.
Since launching in July 2010, more than 54 million journeys have been made on the Santander bikes. Transport for London also recently announced it had signed a £79.7 million deal to upgrade its fleet. The bikes, which will start to replace older versions next year, are 2 kilograms lighter, redesigned with smaller wheels, and meant to be more maneuverable.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.