Returning to London in early September it was interesting to see the Boris bikes in operation. At St Pancras where I had photographed an empty stand waiting for bicycles in July, the docking station now had several machines available and I spotted one man returning his. During the first two months of the £140 million scheme over one million journeys have been made. According to the Mayor of London Boris Johnston only three bikes have been stolen in that period (speech to the Conservative party conference: BBC News).

I have not yet had a chance to try one of the bikes. But they are becoming an increasingly popular form of public transport, it seems. Mind you, this was one area in which Dublin beat London, as the public hire scheme in the Irish capital is now well used. For anyone thinking of using a Boris bike in London, the full details can be found one the Transport for London website, which also has a very useful journey planner  to get you from Wimbledon to Islington or wherever (new window)



I grew up in London in the 1960s in the era of the trolleybus. The service from Wimbledon literally went out with a bang as the last journey was made and the vehicles were sold off to other operators or sent to a museum. Returning to London over 45 years later I noticed a new form of public transport was beginning to appear. Streaks of blue were evident along some of the city’s main roads (not a celebration of the Tories’ return to government). These are the new cycle routes designed to encourage pedal power. Each has its own marking eg CS7, which stands for “Cycle Superhighway”. The paint was still fresh when I passed one in Colliers Wood. Further into the city, there were more signs of a return to two wheels instead of four.

St Pancras at entrance to congestion zone

Docking stations have been set up at various locations, where people will be able to hire a bike in a new initiative promoted by Transport for London (new window). It’s nice to think that for once, Dublin has been ahead of London in introducing this form of transport. There are plans for up to 400 such stations for bicycles but only 300 will be ready for use next week when the scheme is due to begin.

St Paul's Cathedral
TfL bike hire

Each station holds 20 bikes and only those cyclists who register from Friday will be able to use the bikes next week. According to the Evening Standard (new window) most users will have to wait until the end of August while the docking stations are completed. The first superhighway from Merton to the City was officially launched yesterday. But judging by the state of roadworks at Colliers Wood and at Southwark Bridge at the weekend, cyclists are going to have problems tackling the route, especially beginners. I can recall cycling along some of these roads heading towards the centre in the mid 1960s when there was much less congestion. But the way things are now, I don’t think I will chance it again for the moment! I will leave that to my daughter, who occasionally cycles to work in the centre of London.

Latest: She has now signed up for the scheme, received her key in the post, and has made her debut on one of the TfL bikes!

Bikes outside University College Hospital