07 August 2010

Games people play with hire bikes

On myLondonCycle they're encouraging you to play a Twitter-based game with the Hire Bikes.

Whenever you take one out, you tweet its number and use a particular hashtag. So by searching Twitter, you can then track the progress of individual bikes - er, or people. Check in whenever you use a hire bike, it urges you, so "everyone knows where you are cycling".

I'm not particularly a fan of surveillance. But maybe such surveillance could help explain how this hire bike got here. We spotted it in a back garden overlooking the Hertford Canal by Victoria Park the other day. There might be a perfectly reasonable explanation, though the amateurish way someone's spray-painted out the logo on the wheel trim raises suspicions.

Of course, there's disappointment for those using a stolen model. Many parts are non-standard and impossible to maintain without specialist equipment. (The valves, for instance, use special locks; you can't take a normal pump to them.)


  1. Strange, what a lot of online interest in this scheme..

    There is also a forum, borisbikes.co.uk. It says "Boris Bikes is a free independent community forum and in no way associated with Transport for London or Barclaycard.". That seems to be a lie, because it evidently shares a designer with the official sites. It is registered to a non-active company with a London SE8 address.

    As for mylondoncycle.com, it is registered to Bakos Gergely at an address in northern Hungary. He also uses the address --------- London. He runs a number of commercial sites so perhaps he is just trying to make money.

    However there is a more plausible explanation: the sites are part of a marketing campaign, and so are the infomercial-type items in the media. ("Tried it today, wonderful, will certainly use it often"). You think Barclays Bank is too ethical for viral marketing? You think the mayor's office never does spin?

  2. Trust you have passed on the address where this bike was seen to the Police?

    Too many thefts will spoil the scheme and that's no good for cycling generally.

    A swift thief caught headline ought to be a good deterrent.


  3. ^ What Adam said! Anyone who leaves a stolen bike as distinctive as that out in the open deserved to be caught. How many other people's bikes might they have stolen?

  4. Transport for LondonTuesday, 10 August, 2010

    Thanks to you posting this photo and the location of the bike on your blog, the TfL funded MPS Cycle Task Force has arrested and cautioned someone on suspicion of theft and recovered the cycle hire bike for us.

    We’d like to thank you for your help with recovering this bike, which had previously been used for display purposes and so wasn't part of the on-street fleet of hire bicycles . If anyone sees a cycle hire bike that has been vandalised or that seems to be in an odd location – like this one – let us know (via www.tfl.gov.uk/barclayscyclehire) when and where it was spotted so we can investigate.

    Since Barclays Cycle Hire was launched on 30 July, a very small number of bicycles have been undocked for long periods, and one bicycle has been stolen. In the vast majority of these cases it’s been because people didn’t wait for a green light at the end of their trip, which signals that a bicycle has been safety docked. With the help of Londoners in general, and London’s cyclists in particular, we can help keep the number of vandalised and stolen hire bikes low, and the capital’s brand new public transport system in great shape.

    Thank you once again for your help.

    Transport for London