Our new scheme lets you hop on a Santander Cycle in London, whenever you fancy, for as little as £1 per week.
Santander Cycles are as much an emblem of London’s streets as black cabs and red buses. They’re everywhere – mixing with masses of owner-occupied bikes on the cycle superhighways and standing in ranks outside railway stations and other key locations. More than 73.5 million trips have been made on them since they first appeared a decade ago. The record for daily hires is 73,000. Their success is testimony to something that cycle commuters know well: bikes are perfect for urban journeys.
The Santander bikes have taken off among casual cyclists as well as keener ones, not just because cycling is efficient, but because they’re inexpensive to use and offer get-on-and-go convenience.
If you’ve never used one before, here’s how hiring a Santander Cycle works:
Go to a docking station terminal.
Tap ‘hire a cycle’ on the touchscreen.
Pay with your debit or credit card.
Take your ticket.
Enter the ticket’s code on the bike stand’s pad.
Take your bike and ride.
Return it to any docking station. Make sure you push it home with a clunk and that the light on the bike stand’s pad turns green.
That’s it. It costs £2 for a day’s use, as long as each journey you make takes less than 30 minutes. Longer journeys cost an additional £2 for each extra 30 minutes. Compared to what you’d pay on a bus, the Tube, or a taxi, it’s a refreshingly cheap way to travel.
There’s always been a way to do it even cheaper, however, assuming you use the hire bikes fairly regularly. That’s to take out Santander Cycles membership. For £90 per year, you can use one of the red-liveried bikes whenever you want at no further cost (assuming each journey is under 30 minutes; there’s still a £2 per extra 30 minutes charge for longer hires). For your money you get a membership key which enables you to release a hire bike from its docking station without having to use the adjacent terminal. It’s a good deal.
But now there’s a way to do it cheaper still: Cyclescheme City Bike Hire, the UK’s first cycle to work scheme for city hire bikes.
You get a Santander Cycles membership with a discount of 32-42% – so it will cost a lower rate taxpayer £61.20 or a higher rate taxpayer £52.20 – and you pay that in instalments over 12 months rather than upfront. These instalments are deducted from your gross salary by your employer, so they don’t incur income tax or National Insurance. That’s where the savings come from.
Sounds like the Cyclescheme that you’re familiar with? It is. You save a bit more in percentage terms than you would with a standard Cyclescheme package because you don’t end up with a bike at the end of it. That means there’s no end-of-hire payment of 3-7% of RRP to transfer ownership.
Because Cyclescheme City Bike Hire comes under cycle to work legislation, the usual rules apply. For example, the majority of your trips should be work-related – although leisure trips are permissible. And most employers are happy to offer it alongside the standard Cyclescheme,meaning you can have one agreement for your all-important cycling accessories alongside another agreement for Santander Cycles access via the City Bike Hire scheme. The limit is the total amount of salary sacrifice payments you’re allowed.
You can, of course, just have a City Bike Hire agreement or just a standard Cyclescheme agreement. There are benefits to having both, because different types of bikes fill different roles. It’s likely that your own bike bears little resemblance to a Santander Cycle – and it’s a dead cert that you can’t park your own bike in a Santander docking station, where you don’t have to worry about damage or theft when you depart.
Having both agreements in place gives you the freedom to cycle at both ends of a multi-modal journey without having to take a bike with you. So if your commute involves the train or Tube for part of it, you can travel light. There’s no need to take a compact folder or to run the gauntlet of booking a bike space; you know there will be a bike waiting for you at the other end.
You can join Cyclescheme City Bike Hire right now.
It’s straightforward: apply for Cyclescheme in the usual way, using your employer’s name or employer code. Head to the Cyclescheme ‘City Bike Hire’ page and submit your request. If your employer is registered with Cyclescheme using a London address, you’ll automatically see the City Bike Hire option.
What if your employer is based outside London?
All they need do is contact Cyclescheme and request that City Bike Hire be activated for them. So if you want to sign up before they’ve done this, give them a friendly nudge. After all, they’ll benefit too. Once your agreement is in place, then whenever you’re in London, you’ll be able to use a Santander hire bike for as little as £1 per week.
For more details, visit our City Bike Hire page.