Boris Bikes are somewhat of a rarity in the wilds of Zone 3. However, I did spot my third in Walthamstow today. The first two were some months ago in the summer - one appeared very lost and was furtively consulting a map. This one today was making steady progress in the slush along Hoe Street.
I like the bike hire scheme. I know many are sceptical, but I do think this has a chance of being greater than the sum of its parts. If someone takes a cycle to navigate Central London, when they normally wouldn't consider a cycle, then this is another person who may decide that the cycle is a sensible option at other times.
I actually think that London areas like Walthamstow and Leyton would be great areas for 1/2 hr free bike hire. There would be issues - bicycles going missing, and making the scheme available to all residents without having to use credit cards would be two. But car ownership is pretty low in these two areas - my ward has over 40% of households without access to a car, and that excludes households like mine where my wife hasn't got a license and I don't tend to drive in the area. The bike hire could link up the residential areas with shops and the transport hubs. I am sure it would work, and more cyclists in the area would mean far more civilised roads.
Of course it won't happen as the costs of bicycle hire schemes are way too expensive to be considered for areas such as mine.Which I think is a shame.