Just one cheer for Boris and his bikes

For once, I’m going to give Mayor Boris Johnson some credit where it’s due. I’ve been using the Barclays bikes since day one and I’ve now done about a dozen journeys and become an evalgelic fan. This, despite the fact I would normally use my own bike around town. But there are real advantages.

Although the docking stations only extend in depth northwards in Camden (with four exceptions) up to the Euston Road, what I tend to do is to catch whatever bus comes first and then pick up a Barclays bike at the first opportunity.

I know that my onward travel across the West End will be quicker. On Friday, for example, my ride from St Pancras at Goods Way to Kings College, Waterloo took just 21 minutes. If, God forbid, I had taken 31 minutes (inconceivable!), it would have cost me just �1. But I can’t envisage a situation where I’ll go beyond the free first 30 minutes.

There are attributes to the bikes you should know about. To pick one up, once you’ve registered and obtained a kind of USB key, is very quick, but you have to give the bike a really big tug to release it.

Normally, I’d take at least five minutes both to secure and to release my own bike.

The ride is relaxed because of hefty rolling resistance, low gearing and very good suspension.

What I particularly like is not having to carry two heavy bike locks, though I do now carry a helmet in a backpack at all times.

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And, for example on Friday, when torrential rain was forecast in the afternoon, I wasn’t saddled with having to get drowned riding home but could expediently use public transport, so it provides spontaneity and flexibility. Do try it. It’s a great new scheme, already with more than 300 docking stations dotted all around the West End and South Bank.

However, mainline railway stations, because of Network Rail’s intransigent refusal to participate, will, I predict, be a real problem, creating tidal demand for all docking stations nearby.

Let’s press to get it extended to Camden Lock, Primrose Hill, Swain’s Lane and Tufnell Park.

However, Boris is doing b****r all for the air we cyclists breathe by doing away with the western extension congestion zone, failing to act on introducing a new low emissions zone and allowing white van man and over 20,000 taxis with older dirty engines to ply central London, belching out toxic particulates, so it’s just one cheer for Boris. Must try harder!

CLLR Paul Braithwaite

(Lib Dem) Cantelowes ward