London cycle hire scheme: Santander Cycles

Santander Cycles, London's public bicycle hire scheme, is a great way to travel around the city. The first half hour is free, so grab a bike and get riding.
A Santander Cycle bicycle with a London Underground station in the background.
Hire a Santander Cycle to ride around London. Image courtesy of Transport for London.

London bike hire key information

  • You can hire bikes using London's public cycle hire scheme, Santander Cycles.
  • Riders will find 800 docking stations and 12,000 bikes to hire around London.

  • It costs £2 to access a Santander Cycles bike for 24 hours, and the first 30 minutes of each journey are free.

  • For longer journeys, it costs an extra £2 for each additional 30 minutes.

  • Bikecabe hired using a bank card at the docking station or using the official Santander Cycles app.

London's public bike-sharing scheme, Santander Cycles, is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Santander Cycles has 800 docking stations and 12,000 bikes in circulation across London to help you get around quickly and easily.

The bike hire scheme covers many popular areas of London, including the City, Westminster, Soho, Camden Town and more. Use TfL's website to find your nearest docking station.

Before setting off on a bike ride, check out the best London cycle routes and read up on how to cycle in London, including top tips on staying safe.

Santander Cycles

A row of docked Santander cycles in London on a sunny day
A row of docked Santander Cycles in London. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Santander Cycles bikes are available for hire at the docking-station terminal with a credit or debit card – just touch the screen and follow the instructions to begin. The terminals do not accept cash.

Getting started is easy: simply hire a bike, ride it where you like and then return it to any of the hundreds of docking stations across the city.

It costs £2 to access the bikes for 24 hours, and the first 30 minutes of each journey is free. Journeys longer than half an hour cost £2 for each additional 30 minutes.

When you've finished your journey, return the bike at one of the many docking stations across London. Visit TfL's find a docking station page to keep up to date with bike availability at your nearest docking station for hiring and returning the bikes.

Remember, if you aren’t using a bike, dock it. You can hire a bike as many times as you like within the bike access period you have purchased. You have to wait just five minutes between docking a bike and hiring another one.

If you want to hire a bike for a full day or longer, it may be cheaper to rent from one of London's many bicycle hire companies.

Example of Santander Cycle charges

This example explains how Santander Cycle hire fees work.

Juan buys £2 bike access for 24 hours, rides for 15 minutes to Trafalgar Square and docks his bike nearby. Later that day, he picks up another bike and rides for 22 minutes to the theatre and returns the bike.

The first 30 minutes of each journey is free, so Juan pays £2 in total.

Use your smartphone to hire a bike

Woman rides a Santander Cycle hire bike on a street in London
Riding a Santander Cycle hire bike in London. © visitlondon.com / Antoine Buchet.

The official Santander Cycles app, available on iPhone and on Android, is the only app that will send bike-release codes straight to your phone so you can skip the docking-station terminal and get on your bike quicker.

Simply download the app and register for pay-as-you-pedal. Use the app to "hire now" from a nearby docking station and get your release code. Tap your code into the docking point, and you are ready to go.

On the app, you can also:

  • see up-to-the-minute information about which docking stations have bikes and spaces available.
  • plan a journey with an easy-to-follow map.
  • receive notifications summarising the cost at the end of your journey.
  • see your recent journeys and charges.

Santander Cycles bike-access fees

Santander Cycles extra ride charges

  • £2 for every additional half hour (or partial half hour) after the first 30 minutes

Other Santander Cycles charges

If you don't return your Santander Cycles bike or you bring it back after 24 hours or damaged, you will be charged up to £300Check the TfL website for more information.

Other London bicycle hire providers

Other bicycle hire providers in London include Lime and Freebike. Download the apps to check the hire fees.

Best cycle routes in London

A man on a Santander Cycle stands next to a woman on a smartphone in London
Find fun bike riding routes in London. © visitlondon.com / Antoine Buchet.

If you are looking for bike ride inspiration, Transport for London has created scenic leisure routes around London. The easy-to-follow, self-guided routes will help you discover London’s hidden gems by bike. Check out quirky LondonLondon's secret gardensSaturday marketsindependent shops and markets and sporting sights.

The sporting sights route has you cycling past Chelsea and Fulham football clubs, the Kia Oval cricket ground, part of the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race route, and along a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games cycling road race. 

Many of London's parks have cycle paths, including Regent's Park and Hyde Park.

Is London bike friendly?

London is continuing to become a better city for cyclists. Transport for London is creating 450km (280 miles) of new cycle lanes by 2024, and more segregated bike lanes have been installed around the capital.

E-scooter rental in London

If you’re looking for an alternative to cycling around the city, try taking to the roads on an electric scooter.

London's e-scooter rental trial is taking place across several locations in the city, including Canary Wharf, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Richmond, and the City of London.

Electric scooters must be ridden on the road (in participating boroughs), and all new riders are required to complete an e-learning safety course before their first ride. 

Visit the TfL website for more information, including safety guidance, hire rules and steps to hire an e-scooter in London.