Boris Johnson is at it again. Not content with upsetting Liverpudlians, the Chinese, and the good people of Portsmouth, the London mayor has turned his attention to our friends across the channel and, more specifically, Paris's pioneering Velib cycle hire scheme.
Not as good as our Boris bikes, says Boris, and certainly not resistant to those nefarious Parisians keen on taking the scheme for a ride.
Speaking to an audience of investors in the City yesterday, Boris stirred up some good old cross-channel rivalry with the news that only eight of his beloved Boris bikes have been stolen in the nine months since London's hire scheme was launched, compared to a whopping 2,000 taken from Parisian streets during a similar period.
"In case anyone was thinking about listing their company in any other rival European city," he said, "Let me remind you that there is another European city [...] where over an identical period, in the course of running a similar but inferior bicycle hire scheme, they had about 2,000 bicycles nicked by the light-fingered people of Paris."
According to Boris, his scheme epitomises Londoners' unrivalled sense of trust and neighbourliness, thus offering a compelling reason for green firms to "list in the financial centre of the world".
So there we have the world according to Boris - the French: rubbish bikes and lurking criminality; the Brits: great bikes and honest green citizens.
The Sceptic Tank urges you not to forget this fact the next time you find yourself choking on the worst air pollution in Europe or relieved of your wallet by your friendly neighbourhood mugger.
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