So Reading has jumped on the local bike hire bandwagon with the launch of ReadyBike (surely it should be ReadiBike?).
This is a scheme similar to the one so popular in London where a number of bike stations have been placed around the town and you and pick-up and drop-off from these. Coverage seems quite wide extending out as far as Thames Valley and Green Parks, which makes sense.
Judging by the picture below the service is already proving popular but, for me, it has one flaw.
The scheme offers two rental models – pay by the day or an annual subscription, where you get lower day rates. Both of these are fine but crucially you cannot just turn up on any day having registered, grab a bike and go – you must have nominated the day you want to ride in advance. For a casual user such as myself this just doesn’t work. If I turn up and find it is chucking it down with rain I wouldn’t want to ride. Similarly I might get to the station and think I’ll grab a bike on the spur of the moment but it appears you cannot do that.
Having spoken to the company that runs the scheme the restriction placed on the service is by Reading Borough Council rather than the operator. Either way it is a shame and I hope that it will change over time to become more flexible like it is in London.
Bikes are clearly the in thing in Reading right now as the Reading Bike Kitchen has opened up in the last month. This is a not for profit organisation that provides space, tools and help for people that want to mend their own bikes.
When the chain broke on my bike recently I could have taken it into a high street chain for repair but elected to go to RBK instead which for £4 and the help of Dave I was able to fix it myself. I came away with a mended bike and a sense of satisfaction that I wouldn’t have got elsewhere.
Bikes are clearly the way to go in Reading!