London's long-awaited new transport system, the cycle hire scheme modelled on the Paris Velib system, will launch this summer, on Friday, July 30, Transport for London have announced.
Londoners and visitors will discover 6000 handsome, dark blue three-speed bikes at their disposal, distributed across 400 docking stations in nine boroughs and several Royal Parks in the central zone.
The scheme is expected to generate up to 40,000 extra cycle trips per day in central London, in addition to the 800,000 regular cycle users in the Capital.
Transport for London plan 45 cycle hire roadshows from the end of May to explain how the scheme will work, how much it will cost, how to pick up and drop off the hire bikes at the docking stations.
There will be safety tips, details of cycle routes, and cycle training available in local boroughs.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, in his usual ebullient form, said: "In just four months London will glitter with the twinkling dynamo lights of thousands of shiny cycle hire bikes, allowing Londoners and visitors to zip around the streets unfettered from timetables, queues and crowds.
‘What we are creating is not just a cycle hire scheme, but a new form of public transport of the greenest and healthiest of kinds. It will become the cornerstone of the cycling revolution in the Capital and will, I'm sure, convert legions of people to the pleasures of pedal power."
David Brown, Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said. "The cycle hire scheme will be the most sustainable, environmentally friendly and healthy form of public transport ever seen in the Capital."
London Cycle Hire bikes and docking stations on display at last year's Cycle Show
Extra safety measures costing about £1.5 million are planned, including installing Advanced Stop Lines at junctions, improving lighting and CCTV and in provision of cycle training.
TfL say explain to use one of the new bikes, people only need to pay £1 for 24 hour access, or £5 for seven day access, or take out £45 annual membership.
Whatever the selected access period, people can take unlimited journeys within that time limit, with the first half hour of each period completely free of any usage charges.
Thereafter, the London Cycle Hire scheme usage charge will be £1 for a journey of between 30 minutes and one hour, £4 for up to 90 minutes, and £6 for up to two hours. The hire charges then increase incrementally up to a maximum hire period of 24 hours.
London's leading cycling organisation, the London Cycling Campaign, have welcomed the hire scheme and plan to offer advice and information to all who use it.
LCC's Campaigns Manager Tom Bogdanowicz said "The arrival of London Cycle Hire Scheme will be a unique event for the capital: - everyone in the city will have an opportunity to try cycling and enjoy its benefits. The cycle hire bikes have every chance of becoming as iconic in London as the red double decker bus."
LCC's Cycling Development Officer, Charlie Lloyd added: "LCC stands ready to assist anyone who needs advice on cycling in the capital and we will be directing users of cycle hire bikes to the best cycle routes, cycle training schemes and free guided rides."
April 2009: London bike hire scheme taking shape
November 2008: London Mayor pledges 6,000 hire bikes for capital
London ready to deliver bike hire scheme
Paris free bike hire scheme could work in London, says mayor
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Keith Bingham joined the Cycling Weekly team in the summer of 1971, and retired in 2011. During his time, he covered numerous Tours de France, Milk Races and everything in-between. He was well known for his long-running 'Bikewatch' column, and played a pivotal role in fighting for the future of once at-threat cycling venues such as Hog Hill and Herne Hill Velodrome.
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