Image from Evening Standard
Finally London is getting a bike rental scheme, along with Paris, Montreal, Barcelona and many others. It will be up and ready next summer, but new details of the programme are being announced and bike docking stations are already being installed throughout central London.
The users will pay an access fee to join, on a daily, weekly or yearly basis. The first half hour will be free and up to an hour will be a pound ($1.62 US), with charges rising for longer periods. It will be £4 for an hour and a half and £15 for three hours. As the Mayor, an infamous cyclist himself, said "It is amazing how far your bike can take you in 30 minutes if you put in a bit of pedal power."
Image from mail on line: Mayor Boris Johnson
The pricing increases with the length of rental. There will also be a late-return charge of £150 if a bike is kept longer than the access period, or for more than 24 hours. This encourages short journeys and quick returns so that someone else can use it.
There will be 6,000 bikes and 400 docking stations. The black and silver bicycles are variations of the Canadian Bixi, already in use in Montreal. They are made of light aluminium and have an elasticised bag carrier in the front. They are three-speed, with lights that come on automatically and puncture-resistant tires. The seats are adjustable. No helmets are provided.
Image from London Evening Standard: Docking Station in Progress
It has not been smooth sailing. Some shops and area municipalities are fighting against having docking stations in their vicinity. There have been some high-profile refusals - the Corporation of London objects to a stand near St Paul's Cathedral. It claims that the docking station could endanger workers and tourists. Islington has opposed a stand in the street where Mayor Johnson lives.
But so far planning permission for more than three-quarters of the 400 docking stations has been received and a summer start up is envisioned.