Santander Cycles with Transport for London

Previously sponsored by Barclays, and otherwise known as “Boris bikes” after the Mayor of London, Santander cycles are the self-service bike-sharing scheme provided by Transport for London. They are designed so visitors and residents can make short eco-friendly and healthy journeys across the city from as little as £2.

How do I get a bike?

It’s hard to miss many of docking stations situated around London. All you need to do is simply find one, touch the screen, select ‘hire a cycle’ and follow the on-screen instructions. You can’t use cash or Oyster card for this service so don’t forget to bring a credit or debit card with you; most major cards are accepted.
If there are bikes available, the machine will print a release code which is valid for ten minutes. You then type the code in a docking point of your chosen bike and wait for the green light to appear before pulling it out. Check the tyres, the brakes and a bell and adjust the saddle height to suit you. The lights will come on automatically when you start pedalling.
You are able to hire up to four bikes at the same time on one card and you must be over 18 to do so. Over 14s can ride the bike but need an adult to hire one for them.

Can I take the bike on other forms of public transport?

In summary, no. Only folding bicycles are allowed on Tramlink and bus services (at the driver’s discretion and must be stored in the designated luggage area). There is no provision for securing cycles on the tube as there isn’t a sufficient amount of time for a bike to be stored in the vehicle adequately before it takes off from a stop with fast acceleration. There is no place to store bikes safely on a bus either and cannot be put in the gangway as are obviously a hazard to others. As it would be posing a safety risk and could cause injury or damage, attempted to travel with an unfolded cycle is a byelaw offence.

Returning the bike

Every bike must be returned within the 24 hour period of the payment being taken, not when the bike is first used. If it is not returned or it is damaged, you could be charged £300.
You must place it firmly in an empty docking point and wait for the green light to show it’s secure (otherwise you’ll be charged). If that light doesn’t show you can call the contact centre on 0343 222 6666.
If the docking station is full you can select ‘no docking point free’ on the screen of the terminal and are able to see the status of the nearest docking station. If this is the case you will receive a further 15 minutes to find another which you find directions for on-screen.
It’s also possible to download a Santander Cycles app, especially good for frequent users. This allows you to get the bike release code to your smartphone so you can skip past the terminal.
You will need to wait five minutes before hiring another bike.


Initial £2 for hiring that is valid for 24 hours
First 30 minutes of every journey is free
£2 for each additional period of up to 30 minutes

If you wish to hire another bike immediately after returning the other, you must wait five minutes.

Stay safe and happy cycling!