Earlier this week I ran across the new London bike rental scheme. There are a surprisingly large number of these new machines in this, the first phase of the scheme.

The 6000 bikes are spread around the centre of the capital (roughly the area covered by the current congestion charge area) and the 400, rather cool, docking stations seem to have sprouted up from nowhere.

Mind you, it cost a massive £140 million to install and although Barclays’ branding is dominant, the bank paid just £25m into the scheme.

(In stark contrast, TFL is paying just £8m for the first five prototype - and Autocar inspired - New London Buses. And that’s a super-advanced machine with a Volt-style electric drivetrain).

Of course, in a lot of places the docking stations have robbed at least two parking spaces (including my own favourite space, which allowed me to park in Chelsea for free on a Saturday afternoon, so I could walk into the centre of the capital) but in general the scheme seems remarkably sensibly planned.

Access to the bikes costs £1 per 24 hours (or £45 for a year’s subscription). The first 30 minutes on the bike is free and an hour’s hire is a pound. Take the bike for two and half hours and the bill shoots up to £10.