Mayor pushes grab-and-go cycle plan

Mayor Ken Livingstone has asked transport officials to draw up plans for a grab-and-go bicycle hire scheme to boost cycling in London.

He wants Transport for London (TfL) to examine the feasibility of bicycle hire scheme for the capital after being impressed by the success of the Paris Velib or freedom bike system he saw during the Tour de France.

Speaking this month, he said: “It clearly works and is highly popular. I have asked transport officials in London to study the Parisian and similar schemes in order to draw up proposals for a scheme which would meet the needs of London.

“I am sure that we can learn from the success of the Parisian and similar schemes to expand access to cycling in London.”

TfL will look at cycling projects in other countries and consult with cycling groups with view to creating a scheme tailor made for Londoners needs.

A London scheme would need the support all 33 of the capital’s local authorities as they control most of the roads.

The Paris scheme has been has been hailed an instant success.

It offers 10,000 bicycles at 750 dedicated hire-points every 300 metres around the city with plans for 20,000 bikes at 1,400 hire points by the end of the year.

The bikes are available day or night and cost about 70p to hire for half an hour.

Theft is said to be minimal because of the distinctive design of the bicycles, their secure parking facilities and because payment is via credit or debit card.

If a bicycle is not returned the hirer is charged around £100.

The Mayor of London and Transport for London have increased spending on cycling by 50 percent from £24 million last year to £36 million this year.

It is being spent on improved cycle parking, education and training, events and cycle promotion, a network of signed routes.

Mr Livingstone says cycling has increased 83 percent since he came to office.

David Gibbs

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