What is the London cycle hire scheme?

London is set to follow several other European cities in launching a cycle hire scheme in summer 2010.  The initiative will facilitate cheap, green transport for short journeys in the capital.  The scheme will start with around 6,000 cycles available to hire 24/7 from 400 docking stations across central London (travel Zone 1).  Docking stations will be located every 300m with 10,200 spaces in all.

Bikes will be built for durability and include 3 gears, a dynamo LED and a front basket.  Every rider pays a £1 access fee and then a usage charge based on the hire duration.  The first 30 minutes is free, and then up to an hour is just £1.  If a bike is needed for more than a couple of hours it will probably be cheaper to hire from a cycle hire shop, but for commuters and sightseeing the scheme will benefit both Londoners and tourists.

According to Transport for London over 1 million Londoners own a bike but only 2% of all journeys (~500,000 daily journeys) are made by bike.  This is far behind other European cities such as Berlin (5%), Amsterdam (28%) and Copenhagen (36%).  However the scheme is expected to further increase the popularity of cycling in the capital which has seen a 91% increase since 2000.

London’s scheme will most closely follow Montreal’s BIXI scheme with 5,000 cycles and Paris’s Vélib scheme with over 20,000 cycles to hire.  Other schemes are already running in Dublin, Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich, Karlsruhe, Barcelona, Lyon, Rennes, Seville, Cordoba, Giron, Brussels, Vienna and Oslo and there are also plans to launch schemes in Edinburgh, Boston, Melbourne and Minneapolis.

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  1. Coming to Edinburgh too soon! I was just in a meeting about it.

    I have to point out that the Copenhagen scheme is awful, but that’s probably because it’s the oldest one and all the bikes are knackered/stolen.

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