London is a big city. And like all big cities, it is difficult getting around London. For those of us with an appetite for Cycling, the London Bike Hire Scheme offers a healthy alternative to a taxi.

The London scheme has recently been introduce by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and has been dubbed Boris Bikes.

These bikes have been sponsored by Barclays Bank and as such, offer a striking image across the City, in part due to their colour scheme and in part to their rather chunky design. The scheme aims to offer a solution to congestion across the City and perhaps also to encourage a healthier form of transportation.

The bike scheme has launched with 6,000 bikes, whilst this may seem quite a large number, there are 8m people living in London and as such, this is quite a small ratio. We understand that there are plans to expand the scheme to 15,000 bikes in the near future.

At present, the bikes are not intended for long distance commuting, rather being aimed at casual cyclists, families and tourists to enjoy the centre of London on two-wheels. The alternative is of course public transport.

The scheme covers the Zone 1 area of London, which spans from Kensington in the West to Tower Hill in the East, and Kings Cross in the North to Elephant and Castle in the South. To access the London bike scheme you have to sign up in order to be able to access the bikes, although there are plans to make it available to anyone with a credit card once there are more cycles available.

Once you have signed up for the scheme, which you can do online at the Transport for London website, you can use any one of the bikes that are available. If you only need the bike for half an hour or less, you do not have to pay any hire fee at all. A days hire is a mere one pound, a weeks hire is five pounds, and a years membership is forty five pounds. Once you have registered, you will either receive a passcode or a key that can be used to unlock any one of the 6,000 bikes that are parked around the city centre. When you are finished with the bike, you can simply park it in one of the docking stations, and you will be charged for the time that you have used.

At the moment, the cycle hire scheme is not compatible with the Oyster card system used on the rest of London’s public transport system, although there are plans afoot to rectify this in the near future.