13 February 2009

Hire and hire, baby: It's a livin' thing

London's Bike Hire Scheme - loosely modelled on Paris's Vélib model - is definitely going to happen. It's a great scheme, and we're all in favour of it.

It will be up and running by May 2010, and preparations are under way. Indeed one borough, Lambeth, has already released a list of proposed locations for 'docking stations'.

On Wednesday evening, Southwark Cyclists had a presentation on the scheme by Gary from Transport for London, the body running the scheme. Bike Show presenter Jack Thurston was there, and his blog entry this morning helpfully summarises what we learned about the scheme, saving me the trouble of doing any hard work.

I was intrigued to be described in his blog as 'the quirky Rob Ainsley'. This probably comes from a radio interview-ride he did with me on the release of my book last year - you can hear it all on the Bike Show website. So it's official now: I am the King of Quirk. The Prince of Peculiar. The Baron of Bizarre. The Sultan of Singular. The Caliph of Curiosity. The Wazir of Weird.

So what's quirky about the Bike Hire Scheme?

First, it will have its own roundel, just like the other 'proper' modes of London transport - underground, bus, boat and so on. The colour and wording are yet to be decided, but they could do worse than my suggestion (above right). So they probably will.

Second, the bikes don't have racks. Otherwise passengers sit on them, apparently.

Third, they will have baskets at the front. I'm a fan of baskets. They carry things like picnic wine and a baguette and pate, or a library book, or a small dog. They make you think of an arty 1960s film featuring a chance meeting between students. Very real-cycling.

Fourth, the docking-stations network. A subculture of esoteric knowledge will grow - the most photogenic, the quirkiest, the hiddenest, the one with the best pubs and restaurants and cafes. There'll be a whole family of new routes to explore London, based on the network. No doubt you'll be able to follow it all here.


  1. "Quirky Rob Ainsley" is so 2008. Given the name of your new blog, you're "Real Rob" now...

  2. When I make a billion pounds out of all this - not a lot of money these days, I know - I'm going to franchise out the concept: unrealcycling.co.uk, surrealcycling.com, realmadridcycling.co.es...

  3. Except that real means royal in Madrid....

  4. What rubbish! You'll be saying that about the campaign for real tennis next.

  5. Well, Real Madrid are obviously useless at footie, so maybe they could change to the Real Cycling Club of Madrid.