London free cycle hire began on 30 July 2010. Officially known as Barclays Cycle Hire, the scheme is a city-wide programme for free bike rental in central London.
The cycle hire scheme is similar to programmes in other cities, most notably the famous Velib’ in Paris.
Over 8,000 “Boris Bikes”—as the bicycles are called by locals—are spread throughout docking stations spaced every few hundred metres across central London and other parts of the city. After paying a nominal registration fee, cycle hire is free of charge for up to 30 minutes of riding.
After the initial half hour of free cycle hire, the cost increases to £1 for an hour, £6 for two hours, and £35 for six hours of cycling. There is a maximum time limit of 24 hours, for which you pay £50.
London cycle hire bikes are dark blue and silver, have three speeds, and feature flashing LED lights, tough tyres, a bell, a chain guard, and a strap for carrying small items.
Bikes are slow and heavy in order to discourage theft, but they are great for short rides through central London, particularly for those wishing to avoid taxis and the tube. And with London’s cycle superhighways now open, London free cycle hire makes biking around the city even easier.