Don’t Zone-1 It When You Can Boris Bike It

[Updated with new connections.] Ever thought what the tube network would look like if you took out the expensive Zone 1? Me neither, until this morning, when I was wondering if it was possible to utilise my current “Boris Bike” bikeshare 24-hour membership to save a bit of money on commuting in to work.

Transport for London would really rather you didn’t take the tube into Zone 1. It’s often at capacity during the rush hour. The fares are priced accordingly – for example, to get a tube from Zone 3 to Zone 1, it costs £2.90 during the Peak Fare periods, compared with £1.40 if you only go from Zone 3 to Zone 2. Do that commute twice, and it’s a £3 saving missing out Zone 1, which more than makes up for the £1 Boris Bike 24-hour membership charge. So, I was wondering if it is viable to get off the tube a few stops early and Boris Bike the final mile or so.

Superimposing my London bike share map reveals directions from where such money-saving journeys may be possible. Plenty of opportunities from the north-west or the west, with St John’s Wood, Notting Hill and Earls Court having easy Boris Bike accessibility. Access from the south-west and south is also good, thanks to Vauxhall and Elephant & Castle. Things get a little trickier – as usual – in the south-east, where a 1km walk from Bermondsey, or a much longer walk from South Bermondsey are your only options – the region won’t even stand to benefit from the forthcoming scheme expansion. The east is also an option, with Whitechapel being very well stocked with Boris Bikes, and Wapping not being too far either. The east is set to benefit too from the imminent expansion of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme, to use its full name, to cover all of Tower Hamlets. The north-east is OK, with Hoxton an option, although it’s a shame the docks don’t extend up to Highbury & Islington station, a major interchange. The north is also good, thanks to the legendary Mornington Crescent station.

Four of the Best Zone 2 & Bike Opportunities

  • Mornington Crescent (Northern Line) – right beside a big docking station. Don’t go to Euston (Zone 1). It’s also easy to get to Mornington Crescent from the Overground, thanks to an unmarked but official Out of Station Interchange.
  • Notting Hill Gate (Central Line) – the tube takes you to the top of the hill, then go east by Boris Bike.
  • Earl’s Court (District/Piccadilly) – it’s a long way to Charing Cross, but if you don’t need to go that far, the bike is a good way to travel.
  • Whitechapel (District/Hammersmith & City) – two big stands very close to the station, and an easy cycle along CS2 into the City.

So, all in all, not too bad. Whether it’s worth the extra time walking to a convenient docking station, and the worry of finding it all out of bikes, to save a pound or two, is another thing…

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See my Mapping London article for more detail about the No Zone 1 map. You can click on the map above for a larger version. An SVG version (i.e. editable) without the bike docking stations, is downloadable here although there is lots of missing detail beyond Zone 2.

The map was based on a Wikimedia/Wikipedia file, which I then augmented (to show the Overground and some selected regular railway lines) with OpenStreetMap data, by producing a map in GEMMA of railway=rail features. I also added some unmarked Out of Station Interchanges, thanks to this FOI request. Photos by Gnatallica, Clotheyes and Wwarby on Flickr.

[Update: An earlier version of the article and map made reference to Shoreditch High Street station which I incorrectly thought was in Zone 2 for “old East London Line” journeys – it appears this is not actually the case – the anomaly that I was misremembering is that for short journeys from the station, the Peak Fare increases do not apply. I’ve also updated the map a few times since posting this article, to add in a few missing stations and also the locations of the big terminus stations in London. I’ve also added some “Out of Station Interchanges” on the Overground – many of these aren’t marked on official TfL maps, but are valid interchanges, i.e. you don’t get charged for two journeys.]

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14 thoughts on “Don’t Zone-1 It When You Can Boris Bike It

  1. Pingback: No Zone 1
  2. Interesting read.
    I generally think that rent-a-bike schemes are a decent idea, but lack practicality. First, as you mentioned, the locations popular with commuters will probably be cleared out on a regular basis – which costs you time AND money while you have to backtrack to the tube and buy an additional ticket. Vice versa, what happens if your favorite location is full when you want to return the bike after work?
    The second and more important point, however, is how bike-friendly cities are (or aren’t). I would imagine that some parts of London can get pretty nasty with car traffic and couriers and stuff, but that’s just guesswork. Many cities in Germany aren’t really bike-friendly at all and you better tackle them by car, bus or tram.

  3. Chris: I lived in Lyon for a year during its initial roll-out (2005-6). After a couple of iterations it worked pretty well. They started strengthening the bikes (to reduce likelihood of breakdown), adding even more stations (to reduce likelihood of empty station), expanding stations (to reduce likelihood of full stations), and shuttling bikes around at night. They found pretty quickly that a lot of people *were* using them for commuting – a huge spike between 8 and 9am, which persisted. So it’s not like people tried them and then abandoned them – they realised they were a pretty good alternative. They made excellent late night transport as well, after the metros or buses had stopped.

    Implementation is everything though. I’m in Melbourne, where our bike hire scheme is a joke. The legal requirement to wear a helmet, the low population density, and the small number of bike stations, and the relatively high price are all killers.

  4. The German DB Call a Bike hire bike scheme is in several ways the antidote to Boris Bikes in London:
    – the scheme does not use docking stations
    – bikes come with locks
    – users locate the nearest available bike through their mobile phone
    – bikes get unlocked through code provided by text message on a registered phone.
    DB gets business users to combine the highspeed ICE trains and bicycles.
    Pictures of bike rental & free bike schemes:

  5. Hey dude!

    Love your maps. I’m fascinated by maps and transport. Have you thought of updating this to reflect the extended cycle hire scheme?

    As a homeowner (between Battersea Park, Queenstown Rd, & Clapham Junction) I’m intrigued to see how this part of London is linked to the nearby Zone 1 Victoria, Vauxhall, Sloane Sq and South Kensington

    1. Hi – thanks, I have thought of updating it to reflect the two big BCH expansions, but have had some problems with opening the original file (an SVG) in Mac OS X 10.9, so doing the update doensn’t look straightforward. Essentially both expansions are well into Zone 2 so even more options for avoiding Zone 1 now – unless you leave in the south-east!

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