Oh please, not Boris bike

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?

  • We’ve been having a similar discussion on an appropriately-named forum: http://www.borisbikes.co.uk/topic.php?id=73

  • “banker bikes” is doing the rounds as well – a reference, I suspect, to the level of Barclays branding attached to the whole scheme (which extends right down to the roundel colouring).

  • JohnP

    Bonking Bikes would be an uncanilly appropriate fusion of Boris and the sponser….

    But I fully agree that Boris Bikes is totally inappropriate for the reasons cited above and Barclays Cycle Scheme can go take a running jump too. It’s a tricky one for sure.

  • sweek

    Sure, Boris did not come up with it… but he did put it in his election campaign and really pushed for it. Also, he is a cyclist whereas Ken is not. I really don’t mind this really… I’m just happy people are cycling, no matter what they’re calling the bikes.

  • Jack

    What about “bluecycles”?

  • Greg Tingey

    Given that Boerclays are putting up sponsorship, and that the collective noun for “bankers” is WUNCH, I’m sure someone can come (oops) up with a collective noun!

  • Since the London idea is really a copy of the much bigger scheme in Paris, I suggest calling them “Velo” or velo-bikes.

  • Colin Victor

    They’re only being called ‘Boris bikes’ by the Evening Standard in a rather transparent attempt to help his re-election bid (even though they were Ken Livingstone’s idea). Everyone else is calling them ‘London bikes’.

  • How about Ken bikes, since it was the last mayor who started the project back in 2007…

  • Malcolm Bulpitt

    As alliteration seems to be the name of the game CapitalCycles would fit the bill. A capital idea (?) and it is for the Capital after all.

    From a traffic engineering perspective I would not worry too much about the startling blue colour on the lanes. It will probably fade to a duller blue/green colour due to the effects of UV light. The only colour that retains its hue as a road surface is red as the pigments used seem to be UV-proof, and also natural red roadstones exist that can be used as a surface dressing if the dyed ones fail. That was the reason we started to use red back in the 80s for any part of the carriageway that was not available for all traffic. As Derek Turner wanted to reserve red for his Red Routes in the 90s London started to use green for bike lanes but outside the Capital many of us kept on with red as it lasted and we had the option of a natural colour stone (see above). BTW Boris chose blue before Barclays was on board, probably more to do with politics than practicality.

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