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London gears up to become a city of cyclists

Posted by: Kenneth Johnston on July 29, 2010

An exciting new addition to London’s street furniture finally hits the road this week. The London bike hire scheme or 'Barclays Cycle Hire' goes live on Friday. The initiative encourages users to enjoy the city from a different perspective. Hopefully it will. Cycling around the city can be much more refreshing than a sticky summer tube ride!

In terms of brand collaboration I think it’s an interesting partnership. Similar initiatives include O2, which acquired the millennium dome and used it to associate the brand with great entertainment and priority ticketing tie-ins. Additionally, British Airways had a great tourism tie in offering flights on the British Airways London Eye, now owned by Merlin Entertainment.

I wonder what long term benefits will arise from Barclays Cycle Hire beyond just a strong and consistent city presence and the good will the brand is likely to elicit by helping people zip around the city in an environmentally friendly way.

This scheme isn’t designed for long commutes, but hopefully more bikes on London's streets will result in our city becoming more cycle friendly. Mayor Boris Johnson has consistently been pro cycling since taking office, even hitting the headlines in a near miss incident with a truck whilst inspecting potential sites for his new cycle 'superhighways'. I look forward to seeing one of these on a route near me soon.

Barclays Cycle Hire comes at quite a hefty price – an annual subscription and hourly hire charges. Prices have been compared to a similar launch in Canada and are more expensive than our European neighbours.

The one risk with the scheme is the safety issues arising from roads overcrowded with novice cyclists not wearing proper safety gear. I can picture the frustration of our cab drivers as I write; they're vocal enough about regular cyclists let alone tourists and novice users, wobbling about on the shiny new bikes with their big baskets. Also it’s great to launch the bikes in the summertime, however they may be a little less popular during the cold wet winter months.

Ultimately though, as an avid cyclist, I think Barclays Cycle Hire is a welcome addition to our progressive world-class city. I look forward to trying a Barclays’ bike out next time I fancy an impromptu cycle in the city.

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