Re: Is the system fixed?

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My experiences might be interesting. I really like the idea and the bikes (even if a bit heavy and low geared) but have been driven to distraction by the docking stations not working. I am wondering if I should join and get a key, even though it will cost me money the number of times I use them.

Also I have some knowledge of other cities’ schemes.

Re problems:

- I have NEVER successfully got a bike from St Mary’s Axe, despite having tried probably 5 or 6 separate occasions. usually the screen simply has the revolving daisy and “Please wait a moment” on permanent display.

- The day of the Olympic bike race trial, I tried unsuccessfully to get two bikes for my wife and me in many places without success.

- Of all the other occasions i have tried, I have maybe succeeded only once or twice.

- Problems have included: revolving daisy and nothing happening, failing to read my credit card (once necessitating me to try another card – took another £1 but still wouldn’t work!), failure to accept the code, allowing one bike but not a second, accepting everything then saying “we cannot service this request at this time”.

- Even when successful,it can take 10m to get the bike out of the 30m – getting 2 bikes at once within 30m seems impossible

By contrast…

- Nice. Similar bikes in Nice work by going through a one-time registration procedure using a mobile phone. Subsequent hires are very quick and easy, the docking station checks who you are from your phone. The bikes are fine and have locks. Similar fee. Lots of cycle lanes and you can even cycle to the airport (20m or so along the prom).

- Bilbao. Had them but we didn’t use them, don’t like Spanish traffic.

- Madrid. Doesn’t have any. Wouldn’t be a good idea amongst Madrid traffic anyway!

- Copenhagen. What a disaster. 110 docking stations for bikes that are like supermarket trolleys – put DKK20 (about £3) into the bike and it releases, you get the £3 back when you bring it back. No lights. Only one problem…no bikes. We were there three days and didn’t see a single bike anywhere. They’ve all been stolen. Even at the tourist office she admitted it was a crap scheme!

- Toronto. (“Bixi”) Blew me away. This is what gets me – EXACTLY the same hardware as London. Same bikes, same bike racks, slightly different screens on the docking stations (smaller and probably cheaper). But completely different software. VERY easy to get a bike, one entry of credit card only as a casual user, the buttons on the bike racks peep when you press them, so you know you’ve pressed them (wow!!) – and still have 1,2,3 written on them. This is what we should have. Why not just get that software and dump it into the London system? One caveat – I’ve never seen so many potholes!

- Looking forward to the NY scheme (will be there soon).

Anyway, given my concern about reliability, I put in a Freedom of Information request to ask how many times/how long St Mary’s Axe has had problems. Should get a reply by 27 October. Any bets they won’t give me an answer?

Question to those of you with keys – should I join and get a key (purely to avoid having to use the casual use process and its annoyance).