London's Barclays Cycle Hire scheme was launched at 6am on Friday, 30 July, with 5000 bikes and 315 docking stations serving the central area of the city.
The scheme is aimed at improving public transport in London as an alternative to the tube and bus network. The density of docking stations should ensure that there is one within a few minutes walk. It will be eventually expanded to 6000 bikes and 400 docking stations.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said it was a "new dawn for the bicycle in the Capital ... My crusade for the Capital to become the greatest big cycling city in the world has taken a gigantic pedal powered push forwards."
Transport for London's commissioner Peter Hendy predicted the scheme will "generate up to 40,000 new cycle journeys every day in London."
Since membership opened last week, more than 12,000 people have signed up.
The pricing structure is clearly aimed at making short journeys cheap.
Those using it regularly should buy a membership key, which costs £3 and cuts down the time taken to unlock a bike. Then there's an access fee of £1/24 hours, £5/week or £45/year (members only). And there are usage charges on top of that: the first 30 minutes are free, then it's £1/hour, £4/hour and a half, £6/two hours, £10/two and a half hours, £15/four hours, £35/six hours and £50/24 hours, the maximum period that a bike can be hired for.
More information on the Barclay's Cycle Hire scheme can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/barclayscyclehire