Bike share scheme in London launched as pedal power grows

On Friday, July 30, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson launched a major cycle hire scheme, aiming to make the city greener ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

A total of 5,000 bicycles are available from 315 docking stations across the capital, many of them near landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. The scheme follows similar successful programs in cities such as Paris and Shanghai and dozens of others worldwide.

To use the scheme, riders must register with the system and receive a special key to unlock the bikes from the racks. The first 30 minutes of use on the bikes are free with charges increasing incrementally after that, with payment made by simply turning up a docking station and paying by credit card.

Already approximately 12,000 people have signed up to use the system, with 400 docking stations and 6,000 bicycles to be available for the scheme. The London 2012 organisers want 100 percent of the spectators attending the Games to arrive having taken public transport, walked or cycled, and are investing heavily in the subway network and trains to make it happen.

Introduced alongside the new cycle scheme will be a spider-like network of “superhighways” to carry cyclists safely in and out of central London from the suburbs. In all major capitals in Australia, a number of dedicated bike lanes have been introduced, including Albert Street in Melbourne and Bourke Street in Sydney, with the Victorian Government even tentatively introducing a small-scale bike share scheme (with 40 stations and 500 bikes).

Whilst in Victoria in particular there have been some issues with the implementation of the bicycle lanes on existing commuter thoroughfares, these teething issues are hopefully a learning experience on the way to greener cities in Australia and across the world.

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