public bike-sharing scheme, Santander Cycles, is available 24/7, 365 days a year. There are more than 750 docking stations and 11,500 bikes in circulation across London to help you get around quickly and easily. The scheme includes south-west London, so now you can saddle up anywhere from Shepherd’s Bush to Canary Wharf, and Wandsworth Town to Camden Town.
Santander Cycles bikes are available for hire at the docking-station terminal with a bank card or contactless payment card – just touch the screen and follow the instructions to begin.
Getting started is easy: simply hire a bike, ride it where you like, then return it to any of the hundreds of docking stations across the city.
It costs £2 to access the bikes for 24-hour bike access, and the first 30 minutes of each journey is free. Longer journeys cost £2 for each additional 30 minutes. Remember, if you aren’t using a bike, dock it. You can hire a bike as many times as you like within the bike access period you have purchased.
To get started, Juan buys £2 bike access for 24 hours, rides for 15 minutes to Trafalgar Square and docks his bike nearby. Later that day, he picks up another bike and rides for 22 minutes to the theatre and returns the bike there. The first 30 minutes of each journey is free, so Juan only pays £2 in total.
Visit TfL’s Cycle Hire docking-station page to keep up to date with bike availability at your nearest docking station for hiring and returning the bikes.
If you are looking for inspiration, Transport for London has created some bike rides around London. The easy-to-follow, self-guided routes will help you discover London’s hidden gems by bike. There are also cycle paths in many of London’s parks, including Regent’s Park and Hyde Park.
You can follow the scheme on Twitter too: @SantanderCycles
When you’ve finished your journey, just return the bike at one of the many docking stations across London. Cycle hire docking stations are located across nine London boroughs and in several Royal Parks in Central London.
If you want to hire a bike for a full day or longer, it may be cheaper to rent it from one of London’s many bicycle hire companies.
Santander Cycles bike-access fees
- £2 24 hours
- £90 yearly (only available to registered members)
Santander Cycles extra ride charges
- £2 for every additional half hour (or partial half hour) after the first 30 minutes
If you don’t return your bike, or you bring it back late or damaged, you may be charged up to £300.
Use your smartphone to hire a bike
The official Santander Cycles app, available on iPhones and on Android, is the only app to send bike-release codes straight to your phone. So you can skip past the docking-station terminal and get on your bike quicker. Simply download the app and register for pay-as-you-pedal. Use the app to ‘hire now’ from a nearby docking station and get your release code. Tap your code into the docking point and you are good to go!
You can also:
- see up-to-the-minute information about which docking stations have bikes and spaces available
- plan a journey with an easy-to-follow map
- receive notifications summarising the cost at the end of your journey
- see your recent journeys and charges
Explore London’s cycle-hire routes
Transport for London has created a number of hidden-gem cycle routes that take you through quirky London, secret gardens, Saturday markets, independent shops and markets, and sporting London. The sports route has you cycling past Chelsea and Fulham football clubs, the Kia Oval cricket ground, part of the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race route, and along a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games cycling road race.