London's 'Boris bikes' get an app for paying and planning rides

Santander Cycles Announcement - London

Using one of London's "Boris bikes" isn't as simple as, say, taking the Underground or catching a bus. You have to find a docking station with an available bike, work out your journey time and how much you'll be charged, and then find another drop-off point that's close to your destination and not already full. To make the process a little simpler, Santander and Transport for London (TfL) are launching an app for iOS and Android. You can use it to find your nearest docking station, check how many bikes are available and pay for your next ride. Once you've selected a 24-hour or annual pass, a unique release code will be sent to your phone, which can then be used to unlock a two-wheeler.

To give you some peace of mind, the app will log exactly when you took out the bike -- which could prove useful, because even with a 24-hour pass, TfL will charge you extra for rides that last more than 30 minutes. The app can also help you plan your journey, hopefully avoiding any nasty charges, confirm when you've returned a bike, and offer a breakdown of recent hires and how much you've spent. We're still waiting for the scheme to support Oyster cards and contactless payments, but this is definitely a start.

[Image Credit: Steve Bardens/ Getty Images for Santander]