MAYOR of London Ken Livingstone aims to introduce the Parisian bike hire scheme to the capital.

Livingstone and Peter Hendy, the Transport for London (TfL) Transport Commissioner, saw the Paris ?Velib? ? Freedom bike ? hire scheme when attending the Tour de France finish last month.

Now TfL, which is examining international best practice for promoting cycling, including hire schemes like that of Paris, is to consult with cycling groups and other stake holders. In Paris, 10,000 bicycles are sited at 750 dedicated hire-points every 300 metres around the city. Such has been the success of the scheme, Paris now plans to double the number of bikes available, to 20,000.

Secure parking facilities and payment via credit or debit card has minimised the risk of theft. If a bike is not returned, the hirer will discover his/her account lighter by £100.

TfL, which is in discussion with the London boroughs about the free bike scheme, is discussing with transport officers in Lyon, Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Oslo and Copenhagen, where cycle schemes also operate.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, said: ?Cycling is a clean, fast and cheap way to get around London and we have seen an 83 per cent increase in cycling since I became Mayor. I have seen the Paris Freedom Bike scheme, and discussed it with the Mayor of Paris.

"It clearly works and is highly popular. I have asked transport officials in London to study the Parisian and similar schemes in order to draw up proposals for a scheme which would meet the needs of London. I am sure that we can learn from the success of the Parisian and similar schemes to expand access to cycling in London.'

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