The streets of central London got a little more crowded yesterday as 5,000 gleaming bicycles swarmed across the capital as part of Boris Johnson's mission to steer the city towards a two-wheeled revolution.
By nine o'clock on a grey morning, the Mayor of London revealed 1,000 ‘Boris bikes’, as they are becoming known, had been released from 315 docking stations that have sprouted on pavements and parks. Early takers showed varying levels of cycling proficiency as they wobbled their way around London's ‘Zone 1’ travel area.
Towns and cities all over the country are keep half-an-eye on the country's cycling hub. Small-scale schemes have already been trialled in Bristol, Blackpool, Cardiff and Reading and Roger Geffen — campaigns and policy director at CTC, the national cyclists' organisation — says Liverpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and Birmingham have shown interest.
Mr Johnson's utopia is for one in five journeys in the capital to be made by bike — levels not reached since 1904.
Today, cycling accounts for only 2% of journeys in London. There is a long journey ahead.