LONDON’S cycle hire scheme is thrown open to casual users on Friday, 3 December, and Transport for London expect a big surge on the 100,000 people who have already borrowed the distinctive blue bikes.

Popular on LondonNet

Up until today, users have had to register with TfL before being allowed on the bikes, but now people can avoid that bureaucracy as long as they have a credit or debit card handy.

“We are ready for the next stage where anyone who fancies taking to two wheels can do so in an instant with a simple swipe of their card,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The introduction of casual bike hire comes on the back of the announcement last month that the scheme is to be expanded into east London by 2012, by which time there will be 8,000 blue bikes on the road compared to 5,000 now.

For prices and a user guide to the cycle hire scheme, have a look at the official site.