Over the past month London has been invaded, not by aliens but by docking stations for bicycles. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched a ‘nearly free’ cycle hire scheme last Friday. It’s based on the highly successful Bixi project that runs in Montreal Canada. Paris and Cardiff also have similar bicycle hire schemes.
Cycling in London has increased by 14% since 2008, making a total of 250,000 people who cycle everyday and three of those are members of the blog team! The scheme, nicknamed the Boris Bike, has made 6,000 bikes available to rent from 400 docking stations situated across London. Transport for London (Tfl) is behind the initiative. For the first month, only those who have registered are able to take out bikes, after that everyone should be able to take part. The idea is that people use these bikes for short journeys of 30 minutes or less to get the most value for money. Initially Members pay £3 for a key, with membership costing £1 a day, £5 a week and £45 for a year, however, prices increase quite dramatically if the bikes are used for longer periods making the tube and bus more financially attractive. However, you can get round this by taking out as many bikes as you want for 30 minutes at a time. The early criticisms are that helmets and locks should be provided and that the bikes are heavy but comfortable. In 2007 when Paris introduced its bike scheme they had a problem with the docking stations being full and this meant users had to pay additional charges. Tfl are allowing cyclists an extra 15 minutes to get to another station if this happens, which are usually no more than 300 metres away in central London. If you would like more information about the scheme and how to register then click on this link.
I think it’s a great way for brave tourists to get around London and to see more but I’ve seen the way Ben, Luke and Andy cycle so I’m sticking to the bus!!!
invade - (v) to go into a place in large numbers
docking station - (n) a place where something can stay
launch - (v) to start something, usually something big or important
nickname - (v) to give a name to someone or something that is not their real name and is often connected with what they look like or something they have done
to take part - (phr v) to participate
initiative – (n) an important new plan
initially - (adv) in the beginning
financially attractive – (adv + adj) – appealing due to the price
criticism - (n) remarks that say what you think is bad about something
helmet - (n) hard hat to protect the head
to stick to – (v) to do or keep doing what you said you would do