A report in this morning's Metro newspaper claims that around 100 Boris bikes need to be repaired every single day.
20,000 journeys are made via Boris bike per day, making for a damage rate of 0.5%, which doesn't seem too outrageous. The cycle hire operator, Serco, has a team of 15 mechanics patching up the bikes, fixing problems familiar to everyday cyclists (punctures, replacing faulty parts) and less familiar (graffiti, which the Barclays-emblazoned bikes tend to attract more than their unsponsored counterparts). Most can be sprung back onto the road in no time, although around 200 of the 6,000 bikes have had to be scrapped.
The report also suggests that the increase in damaged bikes is partly due to the increase in casual users since the scheme was extended in December, and that the team gets notified of around 300 damaged bikes per day (riders can press a button on the docking station to signal that a bike is faulty), of which 2/3rd are false alarms.
The cycle hire scheme reaches its first birthday at the end of this month, and despite technical glitches (which haven't been entirely ironed out) and the truculence of certain councils to give permission for docking stations, the bikes have become woven into the fabric of London and an icon of 21st-century transport in the capital. Yet there are faults. An article in The Observer over the weekend noted that, whilst proving successful (more than 6 million journeys have been made so far, vastly exceeding expectations), the scheme still only accounts for a fraction of trips made in the capital, and as we've seen before, is used mainly by white middle-class men. Popular as they are, there is perhaps a grain of truth in Stephen Bayley's curt summation: " [the bikes are] an amusing curiosity for tourists."
In other Boris bike news, the Standard's Ross Lydall has linked to a map showing the locations of the new docking stations planned for east London.
Photo / Stephskimo