Leading article: A credit to us all

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The Independent Online

It would be flattering to conclude that the single reason why so few Boris Bikes have been stolen since the start of the scheme in London two months ago is the superior honesty of the British cyclist in general and of Londoners in particular, when compared with their counterparts in Paris. Even granted that the Velib predates the London scheme by three years, the difference in theft figures is breathtaking. To date, some 8,000 Velibs have been stolen, while the figure for Boris bikes so far is – national drum-roll, please – five. That's right. Not 500, nor yet 50, but five.

The real reasons, though, may be more prosaic. The early losses in Paris offered a lesson: mechanics and money are key. Bikes had to be made hard to steal in practice, and the deposit scheme difficult to cheat. So far, it seems, mission accomplished. The clincher, though, is the branding. With hindsight, the choice of a major high street bank as a partner was a stroke of genius. Who, given all that has happened, would seriously want to sequester a bike advertising Barclays?

In disclosing these admirable figures, of course, we are giving a hostage to fortune. Nicking a Boris Bike will now become the ultimate London challenge. We trust Boris and Barclays are up for it.

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