Letters From London
Humorous Views on London Culture, Royals, Gossip and Politics
On Your Bike - 30 July 2010

London Mayor Boris has rolled out his plan to make London into Amsterdam. But not quite. The
Having experienced the look-left-look-right in England, and the look-left-look-right-look-forward-
look-back modus operandi in Amsterdam, I rather dread the ‘Borisbikes’ onslaught.

Maybe a month or so ago I turned onto the tree-lined Holland Park Avenue one lovely sunny
morning to miss being catapulted into the air and onto the street and obliterated by oncoming
traffic by literally centimetres. An attractive middle-aged blonde woman with a distinct air of ‘my
husband’s a banker and yours isn’t. Na na na na na na,’ had one of those entitlement smiles on
her face as she sped along the pavement on her bike without a care – or clearly a thought – in
the world. In a split-second her image was burned into my memory bank – regardless of her
determined speed. I recall a green jumper.

The shock was that I had missed by nano seconds becoming a terminal vegetable by way of a
bicycle rather than the usual method -cars driven by territorial-obsessed drivers who all seem to
be out and about with the main purpose of causing an innocent pedestrian’s death. And yes, one
did move me along once rather ungraciously while I was merrily a block from Portobello market...
my destination. I must be wearing a target visible only to those transporting themselves on
wheels.

Boris wants one in five journeys to be made on a bike, circa 1904. Cyclists are certain one in
three Londoners is willing. Not me. The very thought of a car door opening as my last visual
memory is not particularly enticing. Tourists will enter the equation at the end of August.
Presumably Italians will be prevented considering driving in oh say, Rome, is equivalent to a
death wish.

Boris has managed 4,700 bikes, short of the 6,000 promised and 315 docking stations short of
the 400 promised. Boris was delirious over his success. He evidently had had very low
expectations. Perhaps he doesn’t bank at Barclays whose donation of £25,000 secured their
logo on the bikes. In February 2010, Barclays announced it would pay out more than £2 billion in
bonuses. A free bike included surely.

The two-wheeler-scheme has already been set up in Cardiff, Reading, Blackpool, Bristol with
Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh, York and Birmingham willing to roll out the Borisbikes.

Boris in his own words: “I want everybody to realise that these bikes belong to everybody. This
is a partially communist experiment.” Since 2007 when the bikes were introduced in Paris the
experiment has been taken literally - plagued by joy riders, vandals and thieves. The ultimate in
communistic response.

The scheme is a lovely idea in theory as long as the bike riders don’t adopt the motorist’s
attitude they previously had or it will be a matter of run for your life....