Thieves shun Boris Bikes

Just five stolen since hire scheme began

by Mark Appleton   September 27, 2010  

Barclays Cycle Hire scheme bike

Just five Boris Bikes have gone missing since the start of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme the Independent reports this morning.

Boris Johnston himself, has suggested that: "Londoners' enthusiasm and inherent honesty is in encouraging contrast to light-fingered Parisians. Long may it continue."

While doing nothing for the entente cordiale, his analysis will also be viewed by many as a gross over-simplification of the reality. Bike thefts continue to rise in the British capital, as well as elsewhere in the country. Paris’ Velib scheme is now, with the benefit of hindsight, seen to have made some fundamental errors which have contributed to the reported theft of 8000 of its bikes in the three years since the scheme was launched.

With the London scheme, it seems that a combination of low scrap value, the compulsory provision of personal and banking details and, ironically, the lack of a locking mechanism on the bikes has deterred the thieves and practical jokers who might have been expected to help themselves to the machines.

The Independent says that the scrap value of the aluminium contained within the bikes is just £35, making a poor return on the effort of stealing, dismantling and melting down the bikes.

The prospect of having £300 debited from their bank account is another reason why Boris Bike users make sure they return the bikes to docking stations, while the absence of a lock tends to ensure that, given their fear of the above, riders don’t leave the machines unattended or insecure.

A spokesperson for Transport for London told the Independent: "One of the keys to the success of the Mayor's flagship cycle hire scheme is the well-designed security systems. While we are not complacent about the low rate, we do believe it reflects the honesty of Londoners."