Politicians have their props. For Heath it was a boat. For Wilson a pipe. For Thatcher a handbag. For Boris it is, of course, a bike. The Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is already proving a success story. 60,000 people have signed up. 250,000 journeys were undertaken in the first three weeks. But there is also the soft data. My observation is that those using them are ambassadors for the scheme attracting admiration from those they meet.
There are seven million Londoners so at the moment those who have tried it so far might be a rather small proportion but surely it will grow rapidly. I wonder what impact it will have in terms of votes at the next Mayoral elections. Ken Livingstone will claim it was his idea (actually the scheme was invented by Bernard Delanoe, the Mayor of Paris.) But the key is delivery.
I hope that as the popularity of the scheme grows that it will be expanded – not just with a greater density of bikes and docking station in the current zone but the zone being expanded. I would be delighted to see it moving west into my borough. What about some docking stations to the west of Olympia? What about a Docking Station at Westfield? Or Baron's Court? Or Hammersmith Town Hall?
I suspect the forthcoming tube strike will given the scheme some extra popularity (although it's capacity may be strained.) When I lived in Pimlico I used to take the tube to work at the Evening Standard. Going from Sloane Square to High Street Kensington meant waiting ages for a Circle Line. A tube strike meant I had to walk and I found it didn't take that much longer so I carried on walking to work after the tube strike ended. Will we see the equivalent with those prompted to try the Boris Bike to beat the strike become regular users?