More than 12,000 people have signed up to London’s first self service bike hire scheme. The initiative, designed to encourage people to cycle in Central London was launched by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson earlier today.
With only 5,000 bikes currently available at special docking stations, there may be a few teething problems, if demand outstrips supply. Transport for London (TfL) hopes to reach its target of 6,000 bikes across 400 docking stations later this year. TfL insists that although members outnumber the number of bikes, people would not face a shortage.
For the first month, only registered users will be able to use the bicycles, but from September the scheme will be available on a pay-as-you-cycle basis. Bikes will be available from docking stations in Camden, City of London, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark,Tower Hamlets, Westminster and several of the Royal parks.
Members receive a key to unlock bikes and already, more than 12,450 keys have been handed out to Londoners enabling them to unlock bikes left at 315 docking points across the city.
Access fees range from £1 for 24 hours to £45 for annual membership. The keys cost £3 and the cost of using the cycles varies from £1 for an hour to £50 for 24 hours. However, the first 30 minutes of use is free as the scheme is designed for short trips. So if all your journeys are under 30 minutes you will only pay the access fee.
The 23kg bikes with three gears do not come with locks and TfL said this was done to deter people from keeping the cycles for long periods. Instead, they are automatically locked at the docking stations.
London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones said: "The bikes should have locks and bigger baskets. A target date should be set for people to be able to use Oyster (travel) cards to pay for the bike hire.
"The scheme also needs monitoring closely to ensure that the cost is not putting low-income Londoners off using the bikes."
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016