By Jason Theodorou

London launched a cycle hire scheme on Friday, designed to make transport in the city more environmentally friendly in preparation for the 2012 Olympics.

The scheme, championed by Mayor Boris Johnson, will make 5,000 bicycles available from 315 docking stations across London. There is already an app available to make it easier for tech-savvy cyclists to locate the nearest bike.

The Cycle Hire widget for Android phones sends users to the nearest bikes available to them, using data provided by Transport for London. It also uses 'crowdsourcing' to display how many bikes are available for hire, relying on data input by users.

The app uses simple colour codes to show the nearest cycle hire bays, and displays four different messages depending on the availability of bikes. Green means 'all OK', red means the location is 'closed', and orange indicates that there are 'not enough bikes'.

The London Cycle Hire Scheme is available to anyone who signs up for membership. The first 30 minutes of a journey will be free, with a charge of £1 incurred for the next 30 minutes. Longer journeys will have higher costs.

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