There is no doubt London’s bicycle cycle hire scheme has opened up cycling to new users but maybe Boris Johnson hadn’t imagined some of the new users being criminals.
A BBC Freedom of Information request has revealed that the hire bikes are being used by gangs and individuals to mug people. So far this summer, there had been three recorded crimes involving the bikes.
The first robbery, on May 5, saw a 15 year old relieved off his Blackberry phone, his wallet and an Oyster card (London’s transport payment system) in Westminster. This robbery involved six teenagers. All of them were on hire bikes.
The second mugging, on Shaftsbury Avenue (near Covent Garden) on July 14, involved a lone rider on a cycle hire bike. He managed to snatch a 23-year-old woman mobile phone stolen as she was using it while walking along the road.
The third robbery, also on July 14, saw a 13 year old mugged of his phone while he walked Edgware Road with a friend. He was approached, according to police records, by four or five lads on hire bikes.
Though practical, we’re not sure the heavy often cumbersome Boris Bikes are the best getaway vehicles for criminals. Police can also easily identify hire bikes involved in any criminal incident through the bikes unique number on the side of a Barclays cycle hire bike. This tracing will reveal details of where the bike was hired from at least, if not the person who hired it. Further investigation would be able to find CCTV images of people who hired the bikes.