London’s Cycle Hire scheme goes live

It’s billed as “London’s newest public transport system” and this morning at 6am 5000 hire bikes were placed in 315 docking stations across the Capital. The Barclays Cycle Hire bikes will be available for walk-up rental later in the year; undocking currently requires membership. More than 12,000 members have signed up to date, with over 6000 keys activated online.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, officially opened the hire scheme at 8am. He heralded a “new dawn” in London’s bid to become the greatest big cycling city in the world as he launched the “jewel in the crown” of London’s cycling revolution. The scheme was first proposed by the previous Mayor, Ken Livingstone, but Boris Johnson is keen for the pro-cycling initiative to be associated with his name.

Docking one of thousands of new bicycles at a Barclays Cycle Hire station in the shadow of the London Eye, the Mayor was joined by Marcus Agius, the Chairman of the scheme’s sponsor Barclays, and London’s Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy.

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week bikes can be picked up and dropped off at stations raning from Notting Hill Gate to Wapping, and from Regents Park to Borough Market. Londoners using the scheme can from today take a cycle from one of 315 docking stations based every 300 metres or so throughout the centre of the Capital, with a total of 5000 bikes available to begin with.

The bikes are already being used as political statements, with campaigners adding cutting comments to the Barclays logo.

Speaking at the launch event this morning Boris Johnson, said: “Londoners have awoken to a new dawn for the bicycle in the Capital. Overnight racks have been filled with thousands of gleaming machines that will transform the look and feel of our streets and become as commonplace on our roads as black cabs and red buses. My crusade for the Capital to become the greatest big cycling city in the world has taken a gigantic pedal powered push forwards.”

Barclays Chairman, Marcus Agius, said: “Barclays Cycle Hire is a flagship scheme that will change the face of London forever. We believe there are huge benefits for the public in a low cost, affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly scheme. It will introduce thousands of people to one of the cleanest, greenest and quickest ways of navigating the city.

“An extensive transport system with good accessibility is also essential to the health of London’s economy. By improving London’s transport capacity we will help the Capital attract investment and jobs. We are committed to working alongside Transport for London to ensure that the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme is successful, and are proud to be part of the cycling revolution.”

Peter Hendy, Commissioner of Transport for London, said: “We expect this fantastic new scheme to generate up to 40,000 new cycle journeys every day in London as the Capital’s cycle revolution rolls on. I have no doubt that Barclays Cycle Hire will change how people get around central London. In the week since we opened membership, more than 12,000 people have already signed up to use the scheme, which demonstrates the tremendous support and enthusiasm there is for it. This can only build as Londoners and visitors explore the opportunities having access to thousands of bicycles for just pennies a day will bring.

“A huge amount of work and planning has gone into creating what we believe will be the best cycle hire system in the world. Building on the experience of other world cities who have launched similar schemes, we and our operator, Serco, will use the first month of operation to see how, when and where our members use the scheme, to learn how we can best support our customers.”

Londoners or visitors to the Capital who want to use central London’s brand new transport system during its first month of operation need to be members of the cycle hire scheme. This will enable TfL and Serco to understand and learn from how members engage with the scheme, including patterns of bicycle usage.

A membership key costs £3 with membership costs at £1 for a 24 hour membership, £5 for seven days and £45 for an annual membership. The first 30 minutes of any journey will be free. To use the scheme, members will need to have received and activated their membership key.

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