London cycle hire provider announced

By Richard Peace | Thursday, August 13, 2009 8.46am

A multi-national company specialising in providing services to governments, Serco, has been awarded the £140 million contract to install, run and maintain London’s bike hire scheme, to launch in summer 2010.

Tranport for London also announced that more than a quarter of the intended 400 cycle docking station sites have already received planning permission. The scheme should see 6,000 hire bikes spread over London’s zone one travel area.

It’s hoped the scheme will generate more than 40,000 cycle trips daily. 

Information on that and on the design of the bicycles, docking stations and terminals, will be released later this year.

The London Cycle Hire scheme will be based on, but not identical to, the award-winning Canadian cycle hire scheme, Bixi, which launched in Montreal earlier this year. It is not known if the London bikes will follow the high-tech approach that Bixi have adopted – an approach that includes solar powered docking stations and GPS tracking that will slow and stop the bike automatically if it is not returned to a docking station as it should be.

A few negative comments have been directed at Bixi, saying it is too expensive at $5 (Canadian dollars that is – around £2.75) for the minimum ‘basic’ payment with use of more than half an hour then being charged at an increasing rate per 30 minute period up to $6 per half hour. No details on the price structure for the London scheme have been revealed, TfL only saying it will be ‘simple to use’.

Charlie Lloyd of London Cycling Campaign was very positive about the announcement:

"Bixi seems to have worked from day one and Serco, as a company, have experience running very large public sector contracts. One thing we really would like to see is the bikes being available to use with an Oyster Card, though we don’t have any details on whether this is going to happen or not."  

The London Cycle Hire scheme hopes to improve on the 107 per cent growth in cycle journeys that London has seen since TfL was created in 2000.

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