London -- It is a different experience to take part in a cycling tour in London instead of the typical sightseeing tour on London's red double-decker bus. In July 2010, Transport for London's (TFL's) Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme started to distribute thousands of bicycles for short-term rental. Currently, locals as well as tourists can set off from 570 docking stations in central areas of London.
For locals, the scheme provides them handy and convenient cycles with low prices. Luke, a London local said he used to ride his own bike but he needs to spend several hundred pounds on routine maintenance per year. He said it is convenient to pick up and save him more time as well as money from maintenance to use the cycle hire scheme. But not every London local is familiar with the scheme; some even don't know how to use it.
Some tourists have gone through crummy customer experience when they first used the hiring system at the terminals. According the BCH customer satisfaction and usage research, more than 35% of casual users are not satisfied with the terminals. Complicated instructions, system errors with docking points when unlocking the bicycle and locking it back, and more irritably, severe penalties for late return are often encountered by tourists.
As the scheme designed, one can just pay one pound for a less than 30-minute ride. However, it might be difficult for a new comer to find next docking station within 30 minutes. Or it can also be an exciting challenge to start a brand-new journey to discover London. According to the same research, "being outside and enjoying the weather as well as the ease of use are key positives for BCH." And two-thirds of casual users (within which two in five casuals are tourists) chose to make their trip with BCH because it is fun. Thus it can also be a good new choice to "catch up with the bicycle".
Yan Chiu and Olivia Liu Production
Special thanks to Melissa Finch, Bradley Hal, Maira Matos, tourists in London; Chaowang Zhang, international student; Gordon and Luke, London locals and Hugo, staff of Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme