Brompton Dock Is a Different Kind of Bikeshare System

composit of woman carrying fold-up rental bike and a bike in a locker

Migrated Image / BromptonBikeHire.com

TreeHuggers will be familiar with bike-share programs like the Vélib or the Bixi, where durable city bikes are borrowed from and returned to docking stations. These systems are not without their problems, including often not finding a convenient place to return the bike. The Brompton Bike Hire is an interesting experiment in a different kind of bike-share.

Bromptons are wonderful and pricey folding bikes that can be carried easily and folded quickly. Up to 40 of them are stored in a set of lockers in the Guildford Railway Station, southwest of London. Bikes docks also exist in Three Bridges, Manchester Piccadilly, London Twickenham Station, and many other locations. Swipe a smart card in the door and grab a bike; you can rent it by the day or on an annual membership.

Brompton writes on its website:

As well as being comfortable and stylish to ride, the bikes can be folded to go on other forms of transport and stored securely in an office, a car boot - just about anywhere.
There's no maintenance, no lugging heavy security locks around and, because the bikes can be folded and stored almost anywhere, there's no wasting time trying to find somewhere to leave it at the end of the journey.
When you return the bike to the Brompton Dock, your usage is calculated by the smartcard and you will be billed each month, so there's no need to worry about how to pay each time, either.

While the bike is out of the locker, it is the renter's responsibility, and will cost £650 to replace; a good reason to take it everywhere with you.

multimodal cyclist sitting with folded bike waiting for subway
 BromptonBikeHire.com

It is an interesting concept. We're big fans of multimodal cycling, where one mixes cycling and public transit. I can see someone who works in the City but lives in Guilford using it to get home at night, and others who might take it to London for the day. Nobody gets to take a Bixi or Velib home, they are from one docking station to another docking station only. Phil Dominey of SouthWest Trains tells RoadCC:

Brompton bikes have already proved to be a success on our network. This is the first time in the UK that Brompton bikes will be available from a self-service dock and we believe this will make it easier for people to cycle to or from Guildford station. It is another step to encourage more passengers to think of alternatives to the car.

To top it all off, the bike lockers are made from 95% recycled material and are solar-powered.