We’ve already seen the massive success of urban bike sharing in Paris, but now the super-smart Velib Bike program is taking to the streets of London! 15,000 bikes, 1,000 stations and more than 7.5 million miles of combined biking later have already been implemented in London, and the new scheme will contribute £75 million and 6,000 shared bikes to the mass biking scheme. Spearheaded by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the new ‘granny bike’ sharing scheme will reduce traffic congestion and help clear up the air of England’s sprawling capital city.
The program will begin with 6,000 bikes, distributed across the city in and around London. The so-called ‘granny bikes’ are super sturdy, and have been designed and assembled for high-traffic use, and for low theft appeal. They may not be the sexiest of cycles, but that’s sort of the point — as Jenny Jones, one of the organizers of the program, explains: “They are a little bit grannyish, with a basket and mudguards, and a strong frame, so they are not very attractive to steal. We want to encourage the view of bicycles as a tool rather than a fashion accessory.”
Unlike the Paris system, which provides the free bikes by funding them via advertising, the London scheme will be paid for with taxpayer money. There will be a small cost for the rental, with the first 30 minutes free to everyone, and £1 for every half. The stations will take up existing parking spaces and will be installed every 300 meters in the City and the West End. But what are bikes without good, safe bike routes? Happily the new London plan also calls for the creation of a dozen cycle commuter routes from the suburbs to the city.
“Cycling is emerging both as a major public transport mode and a mark of a modern cosmopolitan city at ease with itself and its global responsibilities.” said Koy Thomson, chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign. Hey Mr. Bloomberg – please take note! New York and Sydney… we are waiting…