There is a temptation to not press the red button because it takes a bike out of circulation. But it is really, really important to do so. The bikes with dangerous faults that I found should never have been available – and they wouldn’t have been, if the previous user pressed the red button.
It’s up to all of us to keep the system safe, and that means reporting anything that feels a little bit unusual (because it might develop into something dangerous).
TfL have responded to me, and essentially blamed the previous users of the damaged bikes that I hired:
Our on-street do respond and assess faulty cycles before making any repairs. While the cycle is locked in the docking station it will be unavailable for use as the fault is something that needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
I do agree about Serco not repairing as quick as they should. A dock with half of them red-lighted is unacceptable. They weren’t all red-lighted the same day, so some have obviously been languishing for a while.
Also, I wonder how often routine checks are made.