The new Nextbike hire scheme has official launched in Cardiff and most of Cardiff’s inner city areas now have at least one station.
If you live or work in Cathays, Roath, Grangetown, Cardiff Bay or any of the other locations coming online as we type this, you can go and rent a bike.
So, how do you get started?
The first thing you’ll want to do is download the app to your phone. There are apps for iOS, Android and even Windows Phone. Once you have downloaded the app you can go ahead and register for an account. If you don’t have a smartphone, head to the nextbike website and sign up there. Failing that, you can also call 020 8166 9851 and register over the phone.
During the process you can request a smart card (£2 each), which allows you to rent bikes using the bike’s onboard computer –ideal if you are not using the app. You can order more than one card too, so you can share your account with other people –just remember it is your account that will be charged.
To activate your account you’ll be asked to enter your debit/credit card details, at which point you’ll be charged £1.
Your phone number effectively acts as your username and a 6-digit pin number will be sent to you as a text message. You’ll be using your phone number and this pin number to login on the website or the app.
Hiring a bike
With the app installed and with your registration complete, you’ll see a button “Scan QR Code”. Scan the QR code next to the bike’s computer and follow the prompts. Choose the option to hire the bike and you’ll be given a code. You use this code to unlock the bike, whether that is for the first time or once you’ve parked up somewhere and need to unlock it again.
It is worth noting that if the nearest station to your destination is full, you can still end your hire by locking the bike nearby and following the prompts to end your hire.
There are three pricing tiers, ranging from casual (or pay as you go), monthly and annual. On the casual tariff you are charged £1 for the first 30 minutes and £1 for another 30 minutes. However, if you think you’ll be a regular user you would be better off paying the £5 per month or £60 annual fee. Both are a 12 month commitment, but they offer the first 30 minutes for free and 50p for another 30 minutes. So, 1 hour will cost 50p if you are on a monthly or annual tariff, but £2 pay-as-you-go.
There is a maximum daily charge for the three tariffs –£10 for “casual” users and £5 for the monthly or annual tariffs.
The initial statistics are looking encouraging for the scheme. So far there are 1,000 new members and 2,000 pay-as-you-go users, just from the first 50 bikes. There will be 250 bikes in the first year.
Fortunately, the survey is still open for you to suggest new locations. We’re hoping Nextbike will hear the calls for stations in the suburbs further out –Whitchurch; Llandaff North; Rhiwbina; Llanishen; Pentwyn; Llanedeyrn; Pontprennau; St Mellons; Tongwynlais; Ely & Caerau.
I’ve used the bikes a few times now. They are heavy, but fairly typical for town bicycles you’ll find from brands like Pashley. They roll well, they have three gears; a luggage rack; integrated lights; and a lock. I have little doubt they’ll survive many a Cardiff winter, but Pedal Power are on hand to deal with any issues that do crop up.
So, have you used a Nextbike yet? What did you think? How was the setup process and how was your first ride?