Love them or hate them, Boris Bikes have been part of life in London for around three years now. Weighing in at a hefty 23 kilograms, they’re not for the faint-hearted -- or the weak-thighed, for that matter -- but as around 25,000 journeys a day are made on them and the scheme is expanding, the blue bikes are definitely here to stay. It’s not just in the capital either -- Bath, Reading and Belfast are all planning to go pedal-powered.
For once, London is ahead of New York as the Big Apple’s equivalent bike hire scheme only launched in June. Heading into the Manhattan traffic might be a bit daunting, but there are plenty of less terrifying cities where two wheels rule. As Deal Experts, we see the appeal of exploring a city by bike -- it’s certainly economical. Here are a few of our favourites...
Notoriously expensive Copenhagen has a fleet of bikes which work in conjunction with its public transport network: GoBikes are fitted with a tablet PC to help you navigate the city and also display real-time information about train departures.
During a recent Travelzoo team outing to Munich, we were both figuratively, and almost literally, struck by the armies of cyclists whizzing around. But now we know that they, like Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich and Karlsruhe, have got arguably the most cunning scheme of all. Once you’ve registered with Call a Bike for 5€ (£3.40) you just find a bike, call the number on its lock from your mobile and you’ll receive a pin number. Tap it in and off you go. Then instead of having to hunt round for a docking station, just lock it to a traffic sign or cycle stand on a main road and call to let them know where you’ve left it. Like in London, the first half hour is free and the charges are reasonable after that.
Barcelona, Lyon, Rennes, Cordoba, Brussels, Vienna and Oslo all have similar state-run schemes where you can borrow a bike for next to nothing -- maybe two wheels really are better than four.