The first docking stations for London’s public cycle hire scheme have now been installed by Transport for London. It marks the start of the countdown to the official launch on 30 July.
The first docking stations are in Southwark Street outside the Blue Fin building and Stamford Street near the HSBC bank. They are the first of 400 or so that will be put in place to house 6,000 bikes across Travel Zone 1 of the capital.
Further docking stations are being installed in SE1 in Union Street (opposite Ewer Street) and Southwark Street (close to the junction with Borough High Street).
TfL have made a three-minute film explaining how the cycle hire scheme works, which you can watch below, and have also promoted it via travelling roadshows. The main features are access keys for members which allow easy bike pick-up (although casual use without a key is also possible), a coloured light system at docking stations to show which bikes are available and the fact that all journeys under 30 minutes are free of charge.
Barclays have recently been named as the sponsors of the scheme – to the tune of £25 million – which will give them branding on the bicycles, maintenance support vehicles and uniforms of maintenance staff, as well as on all marketing material.
Although there was initial criticism of the scheme – principally because the docking stations were not planned for outside rail stations and the bikes did not come with locks – reaction to the bikes themselves has been more positive.
London cycling blogger Andreas test rode one of the first cycle hire bikes and was impressed with the three hub gears (speeding him up to around 20mph), chunky wheels and tyres, inbuilt lights and the adjustable seat height.