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London bike hire scheme suffers pre-launch wobbles

Tourists excluded, payment site punctured

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Anyone wishing to use one of Boris's hire bikes from next week will need a UK address registered with a credit card company in order to pre-register because the 'casual use' system has been delayed.

Londoners - and visitors to the smoke - will be be able to hire push bikes across the centre of the capital under the scheme.

In order to use one of the bikes you must first register online with a UK credit or debit card address. Then you receive a magic key, an RFID chip, through the post, in exchange for £3. Then you pay a £1 a day to access the scheme and then pay again to hire the bike - charges start at £1 for an hour, although the first 30 minutes are free.

Once you've finished riding you return the bike to any docking station.

But technical problems mean that casual users like visitors and tourists - who only have to insert a credit or debit card - are excluded.

Early adopters also had problems registering online today. TfL apologised and said there were problems with the card payment section of the site, but they should be fixed tomorrow.

Despite the problems 1,700 2,000 people have already registered.

A spokeswoman for Transport for London said the bikes would open for the hoi-polloi "about four weeks after the scheme launch date of Friday 30 July".

TfL has no plans to integrate payments by Oyster card, which covers most of the rest of Transport for London's network, into the system.

Transport for London boss Peter Hendy told Serco yesterday there would be no excuse for more delays. He told the Beeb he was putting heavy pressure on the company.

The bikes will be available from next Friday.

TfL last month relaxed restrictions for mobile developers to create maps and other apps using its data - it said it was looking forward to seeing what would be created.®

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