If you’ve got friends curious about cycling who aren’t ready to splash out on a bike then the Barclays Bicycle Hire Birthday weekend might be a perfect date for their diary.
The Barclays Hire Scheme turned 4 on 30th July and Transport for London, SkyRide and Breeze have come together to provide a bumper weekend of celebrations.
Hire bikes will be provided free of charge for people who want to take part in one of two rides over 16th-17th August.
Boris himself endorsed the celebrations and 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.”
The blue bicycles of London may weight 23kg and come with a less than staggering 3 gears, but they offer a no strings attached introduction to cycling which could be enticing for beginners. Best make it clear to your friends that not all bikes are made equal, of course.
The first jaunt, on Saturday 16th August, will begin in Hyde Park at the Stanhope Place Gate, near Marble Arch.
The 45 minute loop, 4 mile loop entitled ‘Hyde Park Fantasy Loop’ will take riders primarily over tarmac paths past a number of sights.
The led ride will start at 9am, and you’ll need to arrive 30 mins early. Though inclusive as possible, you will need to be over 16 years of age and over 18 to hire the bike.
For women only, there will be a Barclays Hire Bike ride on Sunday at 9am, from Regents Park.
This route meanders along Regents Canal Towpath, travelling out to the enclosures of London Zoo and as far as the houseboats at St John’s Wood, with a stop at Camden Market. There is also promise of time for a coffee and a slice of cake along the way.
This will be a 5 mile route, expected to take around 1 hour, and again you’ll need to register 30 mins early and be over 16.
Alongside free hire for these rides, the £2 daily fee that usually applies to non-members of the scheme will be waived over the weekend – making the first 30mins free for any rider.
Hire of 30mins will be free for 4 uses and details of all the events and how to hire a bike can be found on the Transport for London site here.
The celebrations should help introduce new users to the Boris Bikes, which have had a record breakingly successful July.
The month saw 1.17 million hires, even more than the number recorded in July 2012, when London was in the midst of hosting the Olympics.