The first of Mayor Johnson's 'Cycle Superhighways' launched yesterday to mixed reviews.
Both running to near the City, the blue lanes are the first of a planned 12 which will appear throughout London by the end of 2015. The Mayor wants to increase cycling from the current 2% of London travel to over 5% in this same period.
Whilst certainly any moves which encourage cycling should be praised, the schemes need to be supported by real enhancements to the cycling experience - bikes should not be having to fight for space with taxis for instance. Cycling writer Rob Ainsley states that despite superficial improvements, nothing significant has changed other than an application of 'blue paint'. Many who cycle would be tempted to agree.
Of course there will have to be a longer-term change in behaviour by road users as, the Mayor hopes, the number of cyclists increases. Nothing should make a step change in that behaviour as much as the launch of the Cycle Hire scheme, which will put an influx of new cyclists on London's streets on a daily basis.
Not everything there is going to plan either though - launching to members at the end of this month, it will be the end of August before casual users - the bread and butter of the scheme - can cycle and go.
Regardless of the delays, this is a real opportunity for a cycling Mayor to nudge a swathe of Londoners towards picking up their, or London's, bikes and giving it a go. Certainly more could and should be done, but this is a good first step.
UPDATE 21/07: Lee Hickman in The Guardian contrasts the Paris and London bike hire schemes, and the lessons which the Mayor should learn.