Town mouse on cycling in London

On the launch day of Boris Johnson’s bicycle-hire scheme, I collared the first person that I spotted on the distinctive ‘Barclays blue’ machines. First impressions? Brilliant, came the reply, followed by a suggestion that I should try them out for myself.

He was off before I could respond that I’m already part of the group that uses pedal power to travel around the capital. For someone who has fielded accusations of ‘sheer lunacy’ and ‘dicing with death’ as well as having a ‘total disregard’ for my well-being for more than six years now, the sight of more and more Londoners warming to Boris’s initiative is unremittingly uplifting.

At prep school in Dorset years ago, I had a part in a musical where one of the protagonists sang about her belief that when it comes to boyfriends, there is safety in numbers (‘The girl who knows/A lot of beaux/Is never likely to grieve’). I follow the same adage when it comes to cycling in London: the more there are of us, the more drivers will have to get used to the idea and the safer it will become. While the summer weather persists, what better time to experience the satisfaction of shunning bus queues, Tube heat and black-cab fares?