By Daniel Hunter

A major expansion of the Mayor’s flagship Barclays Cycle Hire scheme opened to the public this morning (Thursday) and Londoners are now able to pick up one of the Mayor’s iconic blue bikes from 2,700 new docking points across the east of the capital.

Less than two years since the launch of the scheme and over 10 million hires later, Barclays Cycle Hire has expanded by almost a third in size.

Barclays Cycle Hire now covers 65km2 and stretches from Shepherd’s Bush in the west of the capital, through central London and east to the fringes of the Olympic Park. As well as the eastern expansion an extra 1,500 docking points are being installed in the original central zone and 600 new points have been provided in a spur west to the Westfield London Shopping Centre.

The creation of Barclays Cycle Hire by the Mayor has helped create over three hundred permanent jobs through employment opportunities and apprenticeship schemes. The vast majority of the roles are related to the maintenance of new and existing sites and bike maintenance/repairs, ensuring the best possible service is provided to our users.

Over 2,300 new bikes are also being provided as part of the expansion that have been upgraded from the earlier model to feature a new saddle design and redesigned bell. In total over 8,000 bikes will now be available from over 570 docking stations and 15,000 docking points.

“Our wonderful blue bikes have changed the face of London and introduced a new form of public transport that has eased getting around our great city for thousands of Londoners and made the capital even more attractive to visitors," the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said.

"I am delighted to have kept my promise to provide a cycle hire scheme for the people of London and today we have made it even bigger and better than ever before.”

Today the Barclays cycle hire scheme has been extended throughout the entire borough of Tower Hamlets, including Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs, Wapping, Poplar, Stepney Green, Mile End and Bow. It has also been extended in Hackney to serve north Shoreditch.

An extension has also been completed through part of Kensington & Chelsea from the west of the existing zone to Westfield Shopping Centre in White City. The western extension will include approximately ten new sites through the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westfield London Shopping Centre.

“I am delighted that we are launching the extension of Barclays Cycle Hire today," Barclays Chairman, Marcus Agius, said.

"The scheme makes a positive difference to everyday life in London, its people, and the economy. Taking it to east London is an exciting development for Barclays as we will have the scheme on the doorstep of our Global Headquarters in Canary Wharf. ‘Citizenship’ is one of our strategic priorities at Barclays and this scheme is a great example of this.”

The Mayor has also asked TfL to prepare plans for a westward expansion of the cycle hire scheme in 2013 through the boroughs of Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Kensington & Chelsea.

“Extending Barclays Cycle Hire to other areas of the capital will enable more Londoners and visitors than ever before to experience the delights of cycling in London. The bikes are affordable, easy to use and a fun way to move around London for both business and leisure journeys,” Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said.

Hundreds of residents from across the eastern expansion area have attended community sessions to find out more about the scheme. Plus over thirty community contacts are participating in a pilot project to become Ambassadors to promote Barclays Cycle Hire to their members and colleagues.

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