London’s Barclays bicycle hire scheme launched on Friday and promises a hi-tech cycling solution for the city.
London’s bike hire scheme launched on Friday and saw some 6,000 technology-packed bicycles fill the capital.
The number of bicycles sent out into London has raised concerns over vandalism and safety. However, the bikes make use of the latest technology to try and combat any risk of damage of theft.
Using one of the bicycles will require a complex system of keys and passcodes to unlock them. Firstly access in either membership or casual form will be required. The futuristic docking stations for the bicycles have keypads within which casual users of the bikes can enter a code obtained online or at the station. The code will then allow a bike to be unlocked and used. For members of the scheme a key will be sent out which allows cyclists to bypass the keypad system and rapidly unlock the bikes.
All of the bicycles and keys contain a ‘Radio Frequency Identification Device’ which enables them to measure the amount of time between docking stations and thus time used. The technology is similar to that used in animal identification and hospital operating rooms to keep track of individual animals on farms and foreign objects in surgery.
The docking stations use a system of lights to indicate the conditions of the bicycle. Red lights indicate the bike is not available for hire, amber lights show that your account details are being checked and green means they are unlocked.
Despite all the technology however the bicycles have one clear flaw. They currently lack Oyster card access which means the ticketing system in place for the rest of Transport for London’s network will not function with the bikes. London Assembly Green Party member criticised the Oyster card omission: “A target date should be set for people able to use Oyster cards to pay for the bike hire.”
The bicycles themselves are also incredibly robust and have gone through serious testing to ensure their durability in London. Laboratory tests on the bicycles made sure they could withstand up to 40,000 miles of use. Despite this hardiness, mechanics will still be sent out every two weeks to check the conditions of the bikes.
Original article can be found here