The new London hire bikes seem to be a hit with initial users, and it is important that the scheme works, even though I am sceptical that it is the best way to boost cycling in the city. The £140m – of which Barclays is apparently contributing £25m – being spent on the scheme could have funded a massive network of cycle route through central London, for example, and I suspect that would have done more for cycling.
Nevertheless, of course I wish the scheme well and it is quite exciting to see novice cyclists pootling round London on the rather ungainly looking machines. The big problem, though, is what to call them. The name gaining currency thanks to our passion for alliteration is Boris bike, but since they were not his idea in the first place and he is merely implementing a policy that all the main mayoral candidates supported, that is giving him unfair kudos.
But it is hard to think of an alternative. Barclays bike would be even worse, especially for those of us old enough to remember their links with the apartheid regime of South Africa and the campus campaigns against them. ‘Hire bikes’ would be too dull and nobody would use ‘London bikes’. So, any ideas?