Barclays Cycle Hire is celebrating four successful years this week by giving Londoners and visitors free access to cycle hire bikes across London on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 August.
The cycle hire scheme was launched on 30 July 2010 and since then over 32 million journeys have been made on cycle hire bikes.
Over the weekend of 16 and 17 August, anyone will be able to saddle up on a Barclays Cycle Hire bike for a 24-hour period, and as long as the trips are under half an hour they can make as many rides as they wish, all for free.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "In my experience there is no greater way to enjoy London than on two wheels and to celebrate our fantastic cycle hire scheme's fourth birthday, we are offering everyone the chance to cycle around our beautiful city for free. Whether you are an avid enthusiast or a cycling novice, you'll be able to hop on a bike and take in some of our capital's most iconic sights."
Barclays Cycle Hire has become an integral part of travelling around London and the number of users, both new and regular, continues to grow. This July is set to beat the previous record, set during the Olympic Games in 2012, for the number of hires in a month with over 1.17m hires. Between March and June this year, there was also a 30 per cent increase in the number of cycle hire trips compared to the same period last year.
The scheme now covers over 100km² of London and more than 90 London Underground stations (including the entire Circle line) and a number of major rail stations such as Clapham Junction, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Putney are now all within a short walk of a docking station, enabling more people to make cycling part of their daily commute.
To encourage more people to take up cycling, and to help build confidence on two wheels, British Cycling and Transport for London have teamed up to offer free group rides. One ride will take place in Hyde Park on Saturday 16 August and a women only bike ride to help encourage women to start cycling, will be held in Regent's Park on Sunday 17 August. Each group ride, which will take around 40 minutes to cover four and a half miles, will be led by a trained British Cycling Ride leader along scenic, planned routes. Bikes will be provided by TfL and there will be no charge.
Nick Aldworth, General Manager for Barclays Cycle Hire at TfL, said: "We've had a fantastic four years on Barclays Cycle Hire, with the distinctive bikes now firmly part of daily life in London. We're set to break our previous record for the number of hires this month, with over 1,170,000 hires. "If you haven't tried the bikes before, you can give them a go for free during the weekend of Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 August. Riding with others can be fun so we've also teamed up with British Cycling to offer guided group rides in two lovely central London parks. "From Notting Hill to Canary Wharf and Camden to Clapham Junction, people are discovering how pleasant and handy it is to hop on our bikes to get around town. So come and celebrate this special anniversary with us, and get pedalling."
The Cycle Hire scheme has seen many exciting developments over the last four years, expanding to east London in 2012 and to south and west London last year. Three new docking stations opened on Monday 28 July in Clapham Junction, Battersea - handy for commuting or to access popular cycle routes on Wandsworth and Clapham Commons.
To help Barclays Cycle Hire users discover London during the summer, TfL has created a number of self-guided leisure cycle routes, many of which are on quieter roads. Popular routes include London's Secret Gardens, Saturday Markets, Independent Shops and Markets, and Quirky London. The newest route, called Sporting Sights, takes in famous sporting venues such as Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's football ground, and the Kia Oval cricket ground.
Cycle hire users can pick up a free copy of the "Explore London with Barclays Cycle Hire" map, which contains the above leisure routes, at central London Tube stations, London Overground stations or by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk/leisureroutes Barclays Cycle Hire is easy to use. Users can simply use a credit or debit card to hire a bike with no need to book and from as little as £2 for 24 hours can make an unlimited number of journeys under 30 minutes each time. Regular users can register for annual membership, which equates to 25p per day and get the same unlimited number of journeys under 30 minutes each without paying anything more. Alternatively, they can register as a Pay as You Pedal member, which provides users with a membership key for quick access to the bikes and a pay as you go facility