London mayor Boris Johnson has responded to concerns over the proposed London Cycle Hire Scheme. It comes after Paris's similar Velib project revealed it had lost thousands of bikes to theft and vandalism.
London Assembly member Valerie Shawcross (Labour) asked Mr Johnson what plans he had to ensure the scheme for the British capital would be "more robust". She said more than half of the original fleet of bikes in the Parisian Velib scheme had been stolen or broken, putting the financial viability of the project at risk.
Mr Johnson said Transport for London had looked at several cycle hire schemes to ensure they learned from other operators' experiences. He said as a result, a number of additional measures would be taken to minimise theft of hire bicycles in London.
The mayor said docking points would be designed to be easy to use and people would be encouraged to use them wherever possible. He said the hire bikes would not come with locks in order to dissuade users from leaving them where they might be at risk of theft or damage.
He also promised docking points would be monitored by security cameras wherever possible, saying: "Each docking station site will be assessed to determine whether it is covered by existing CCTV. If there is no coverage, consideration will be given to installing additional equipment."
Mr Johnson was also asked by the Green Party's Jenny Jones whether users of the scheme would be required to wear cycle helmets. He replied: "There are no plans to make the use of cycle helmets compulsory for users of the London Cycle Hire Scheme. The wearing of cycle helmets in the UK is not mandatory and it is therefore personal choice as to whether cyclists might like to consider wearing a helmet."
The London Cycle Hire Scheme is due to be launched in May 2010. People will be able to pick up and drop off bikes at 400 locations across the nine London boroughs and several Royal Parks that make up London’s Zone One travel area.