London mayor pokes fun at bike-thieving Parisians

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London Mayor Boris Johnson took a swipe at sneaky Parisians on Monday, comparing the number of hire bicycles stolen in the British and French capitals.

Johnson said just three bicycles had been ridden off into the sunset since London's city-wide hire scheme was unveiled, compared to hundreds in Paris.

"Do you know how many bicycles we have had stolen in London in the course of two months?" he asked the Conservative Party's annual conference in Birmingham, central England, to laughter and applause.

"Only three bicycles have gone solo.

"Does it tell you that we have a bike hire scheme that is to the French scheme as a Rolls-Royce is to a 2CV? Yes, it certainly does.

"Does it tell you that the people of London are more honest than the light-fingered Parisians? I would point out that in Paris over a comparable period they managed to lose 500 bicycles.

"They lost 3,000, nicked, during the first three months of the scheme.

"I don't want to violate the 'entente cordiale' but it seems to me there are obvious comparisons to be drawn.

"You'll be wondering what's happened to those three bicycles.

"We have them. Not only do we have them, we have the culprits," he added, to huge cheers.

A total of 5,000 bicycles are available from 315 docking stations across the capital, many of them near landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London.

Paris and Shanghai have similar schemes.

© 2010 AFP

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