Political Promise

Why The Boris Bikes Scheme Will Be a Success In Everyone’s Books

In Charlie Edwards on July 30, 2010 at 7:55 pm

By Charlie Edwards

In a similar scheme in Paris, 10,000 bicycles have been stolen. There is less money for investment in decrepit Parisian metro and bus services. There have been accounts of anti-social use of the bicycles. You are guaranteed to spot one floating along the river Seine. Yet Boris unveiled London’s scheme in high spirits this week. How successful with it be?

There is a popular joke doing the rounds among London’s cyclists at the moment, that Boris’ new cycle lanes have always been there, he simply painted them blue so he could take the credit. Although I am not entirely sure of its level of humour, but we can take away from this anecdote is that cyclists are finally being taken seriously. Serious investment in the capital’s 30,000 daily cyclists has not gone amiss in the community. For hardcore cyclists, what do they make of the Bike share scheme Boris has unveiled this week?

It will engage more people in cycling. Which on the whole, given a context of rising obesity rates and stuffy tube carriages, can only be seen as a good thing. For the cycling elite, it will mean more congestion, idiots on the road and the resultant accidents arising from the first two points, ultimately giving cyclists a bad name. Well, among London’s cabbies at least.

As people rediscover a thirst for cycling, then become conscious of how heavy and clunky Boris’ bikes are, they will decide to purchase their own. Britain’s cycle manufacturers- one industry which we still dominate, despite all best attempts by a certain previous government- will see an increase in demand and as a result, the boom for cycling will continue to snowball. Britain should and could become a country of cyclists. London’s roads are notoriously dreadful, our tubes are still packed despite massive investment. It will be another way to fleece London’s 10 million annual tourists, and will be a bedevilling sight through the bustle of Chinatown or the tranquility of Regent’s Park.

Boris himself has been on the whole positive about the scheme. He admitted the ‘teething’ problems, on LBC radio: “The reality is that the software issues and technical issues of getting the whole thing up and running for tomorrow has been extremely difficult.” In order to hire a bike, you need to register or insert your credit card into the bike, so any possible thefts can be tracked down. If your hire time is coming to its end and there are no free docking stations, if you go to the nearest one, you can receive a free extra 15 minutes to find a place to leave the bike.

I signed up to the service yesterday and am expecting my ‘key to London cycling’ in Monday’s post. For £45 a year, it is a real bargain. Whether it will Permanently effect people’s travel habits, we will wait and see. But for this London lover, I think it will be a great triumph. And if you disagree well… On your bike!

If you want to find more information about the scheme, see the Tfl Cycling site.

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