Free Cycle Hire launches in London on 30 July

photo LCC tests the Cycle Hire bikes in the June-July issue of London Cyclist (out end of May)

A Paris-style, free Cycle Hire scheme arrives in London on 30 July 2010, two years after LCC convinced all the candidates in the mayoral elections to promise it.

Free to use (after a small registration fee), there will be 6000 bikes at 400 docking stations all over Zone 1, which will be free for up to 30 minutes.

LCC will be running rides in the Cycle Hire zone, showing quiet routes and quick short-cuts. Navigating unfamiliar streets is likely to be the biggest challenge for the thousands of people new to cycling in central London.
LCC has been able to try out the bikes
The bikes are impressive: dark blue and silver, comfortable and ride well. The flashing LEDs are on all the time, highly visible at the back as they are built into the frame on each side.
Anti-vandal features and super-tough tyres make the bikes heavier than normal, but the three-speed, low-ratio gears should handle any hill in central London.

A small carrier and strap will hold a reasonable sized bag. The bikes have no lock so you will have to return it to a stand for someone else to use or carry your own lock.
Free 30 minutes will encourage bike freedom
LCC is delighted the bikes will be free for the first half hour (TfL was considering a 40-50p initial fee).

LCC’s campaigns manager Tom Bogdanowicz said, "Everyone in the city will have an opportunity to try cycling and enjoy its benefits. The Cycle Hire bikes have every chance of becoming as iconic in London as the red double-decker bus."
The Paris Velib scheme is examined in the April-May 2010 issue of London Cyclist magazine, free to LCC members.

TfL will be running roadshows from May with information on the bikes, routes and where to get funded cycle training from your borough.