Today’s the day were gearing up to Boris’ big one, his pet project, that is. Well, it would be his idea if he hadn’t stolen it from Ken Livingstone, who adopted it from Paris mayor Bertrand Delande. Yes, today marks the start of a new revolution in which Boris intends to bring pedal power to London (at a cost of £140 million).
Boris believes the London Cycle Hire Scheme will encourage reluctant pedallers on to two wheels. Already under fire for having the bikes built 3,200 miles away and shipped here from Canada, what will happen to Boris’ credibility if they end up trashed or slung in the Thames?
The bikes are built like tanks, so say the manufacturers claiming the bikes will last more than seven years. Forty-two modifications have been made to the original design to make it more suitable for London’s weather. But one change Boris insisted on was to spray them Tory blue, the question needs to be asked, if Ken Livingstone get back into City Hall, will he have them sprayed red?
They may be indestructible to all but the criminally insane, but will Londoner’s who infrequently ride them have the survival streak necessary on today’s roads. And built with only three gears you’ll need the thighs of Chris Hoy to make it up Highgate Hill.
London seeks to emulate Montreal’s success where demand jumped from 3,000 to 5,000 in just one year. But Montreal is a much smaller city which hasn’t gone down the London route, beloved by yobbos, if you can break it, if you can’t paint it.
So a word to Boris; why have you not got the Oyster Card to work at the docking stations? Most users will be reluctant to use their credit card and get yourself a fishing rod, you might need it for fishing the bikes out of the Thames.