Ken looks at radical new plans for cycling in London

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, announced today that he has asked Transport for London to examine the feasibility of bicycle hire scheme to promoting cycling in London. The Mayor recently saw at first hand the successful 'Velib' - Freedom bike - hire scheme introduced by the Mayor of Paris, which has enjoyed great success since its launch a few weeks ago.

The Mayor and Peter Hendy, the Commissioner of Transport for London, witnessed the Paris Velib scheme at first hand during the recent Tour de France.

Transport for London have been asked to look at international best practice in promoting cycling, including hire schemes like that of Paris, with a view to introducing a scheme which meets the specific needs of London. Cycling groups and other stakeholders will be consulted on the options.

A London scheme would require the support of London Boroughs, as well as the Mayor, as most London roads are controlled by the boroughs.

The Paris scheme offers 10,000 bicycles sited at 750 dedicated hire-points every 300 metres around Paris, with plans for 20,000 bikes at 1,400 hire points by the end of the year. The bikes are available at any time of the day or night and cost just about 70 pence to hire for half an hour. Theft is minimal because of the unique design of the bicycles, their highly 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 Paris scheme has been an instant success, with the distinctive Freedom Bikes now seen all around the centre of Paris.

Transport for London officials have been working with the Clearzones Partnership and central London boroughs to examine the potential for a similar scheme for some months and will be meet their opposite numbers in Paris, and other European cities, to discuss the practicalities of such schemes. Other cities with a strong record on cycling or with public cycle hire scheme include Barcelona, Lyon, Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Oslo and Copenhagen.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, said:

‘Cycling is a clean, fast and cheap way to get around London and we have seen an 83 per cent increase in cycling since I became Mayor. I have seen the Paris Freedom Bike scheme, and discussed it with the Mayor of Paris. 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.'