So-called "Boris bikes" were actually a scheme devised by Ken Livingstone, and a good scheme it is too. Put your credit card in a machine and for a small charge, you can use a bike to nip about the city. Boris, on the other hand, decided London should overpay for crap busses that don't have air conditioning but fit with his desire to drive the UK back into the '50s.
Now, oBike hopes to provide us two advantages. Firstly, they can't be used to credit a nasty blonde toff with an idea which wasn't his. Secondly these oBikes don't live in fixed stands, instead, an app will help you locate a bike, once you've found it a quick scan of the QR code and you're ready to take it for a ride after the app unlocks the built-in lock.
Payment is handled through the app and charged at 50p per 30 minutes. Your card also gets charged a £50 deposit. A special promotion is offering a reduced deposit of £30 and free rides throughout July. Bikes have a built in lock, and once you're finished you simply park somewhere sensible, lock the bike up and you're free to go. Customers can also earn credits if they report bikes that are broken or improperly parked.
The company has placed some 400 bikes in Tower Hamlets as a trial, but the main issue likely to arise is that of bike availability. The currently-Santander-sponsored scheme involves a lot of stock movement in vans to make sure that the bikes are widely-available and not all dumped in a pile at Waterloo station. The slightly simpler system of leaving a bike anywhere seems like it might help resolve this, but there must surely be popular locations which will end up collecting bikes.