Innovative London bike hire scheme launched

An innovative bike hire scheme has been launched this week that could be perfect for those looking for a healthy and eco-friendly way to commute to a conference venue in London.

Based upon Paris’s Velib bike-hire scheme, the new cycle hire system began operating this morning at 0600 GMT with a ceremony by Boris Johnson, the Lord Mayor of the capital. Open to anyone aged 18 or over, after a four-week trial period some 6,000 bicycles will be made available to anyone on a pay-as-you-cycle basis.

The bikes are held at 400 special docking stations positioned throughout London, where they will remain locked until someone has made a payment online, by phone or at a docking station’s debit card facility. Once someone has paid, they are sent a keycode which unlocks the bikes and users can then return them to any other docking station in the city.

If a docking station has no available bikes, then an interactive map on the terminal will direct users to the nearest available bicycle. Additionally, a host of online widgets and mobile phone applications are currently being developed.

Already 12,000 people have signed up for keys to the innovative scheme’s four week trial, where only registered members will be able to use them.

“My crusade or the capital to become the greatest big cycling city in the world has taken a gigantic pedal-powered push forwards,” said Mayor Johnson at the opening ceremony.

To use the scheme, a £3 key must be purchased which will then be topped up with the keycodes provided by the payment system. The BBC reports that the usage charge will range from £1 for an hour to £50 for 24 hours of use, as the system is designed to encourage the use of several different bikes rather than one exclusively.

They are likely to be perfect for travelling between meeting venues, particularly during tube disruptions, as there is absolutely no charge for any journey that takes up to 30 minutes.