The so-called 'boris bikes' are of course the trendy new accessory for London. It's a great idea - you just walk up to a bike, put in your magic key, take the bike out, ride to another bike rack and drop it off. If you can manage that in less than 30 minutes, your journey is free.
Mrs Cat got me a magic key, so this week I thought I'd give it a whirl:
Monday 27th PM: 1 bike left at Earnshaw Street, but not removable from the stand, even though not showing any problems. Took the tube all the way home.
Tuesday 28th PM: 1 bike left at Wardour Street, but not removable from the stand, not showing any problems. Went to Great Marlborough Street, 1 bike left, not usable either. Went to Little Argyl Street and found a bike scheme man trying to get the last remaining bike out of the stand. Took the tube all the way home.
Wednesday 29th PM: Absolutely peeing with rain - took the tube home!
Thursday 30th AM: Bright sunny morning, so decided to get off at Pimlico and use a bike. Went to St. Georges Square because the Internet showed lots of bikes remaining, only to find the entire stand wasn't working (and three other people lurking around with the same problem). I checked the display which said the next nearest stand (Rampayne Street) had 9 bikes on it. Found one bike remaining, which wouldn't come off the stand. Went to Regency Street, found lots of bikes, although another user was saying the first one he'd tried wouldn't come off the stand. Managed to get a bike, cycled to Earnshaw Street to drop it off, but it was full, so headed to the British Museum as it was the nearest showing empty spaces (although the very next nearest was full).
Edit: Thursday 30th PM: One bike left at Earnshaw street, the unlock light went green, but try as I might, I couldn't get it off the stand. Walked around to Russell Square, lots of bikes, and people getting them in and out, except my key just kept showing red on all of them. Walked on to the British Museum and found lots of bikes and got one out no problems. Dropped it off at Vauxhall tube with no problems either.
I'm going to keep trying with this, but man oh man, you've really got to want to use these bikes to actually be able to use them. In short, you'll end up going somewhere you're not near to get a bike, then end up dropping it off somewhere you don't want to go.
That said, possibly because they're all sparkly and new, the bikes are quite nice. They're big old clunkers, mind you - they're heavy, a bit non-responsive, and the brakes and gears aren't very good. However, for a quick trip, they're just what you need - if you can find one, and don't end up going further than you wanted to drop it off!