Tuesday, 13 September 2005

On yer bike!

I have a folding bicycle. I bought it on eBay last year. I don’t know why I got it since I’m scared of using it on the roads and riding on the pavement is not allowed. I sometimes think I acquire things just to see if my minute flat can accommodate them. And to my amazement it usually does. So this lovely silver bike, which I hardly ever fold or use, sits in my tiny corridor, getting dusty and glaring at me when I go past. Four times I inflated the tyres this summer, with the intention of taking the cute machine out, but I got too busy and, anyway, I couldn’t run the risk of having an accident and breaking my arm, for instance, so the tyres are once again flat.

I used to have another bike (I love bikes, what can I do?). I sold it to our head porter. It was also foldable, but it had a tendency to collapse from under you without warning. Not a good thing in a bike. I was going to try and flog it to the owner of a bike shop, who said he might take it on a sale or return basis, when the porter expressed an interest in it. He offered me a reasonable price for it so he took it away. I couldn’t swear I didn’t half hope the bike would cause him an injury – there’s bad blood between us. In fact, he wanted it for one of his daughters. I think she’s still alive.

Since the events in July, we keep seeing ads on the TV about how cycling is enjoyable and good for you. A lot of folks have abandoned public transport and cycle to work every day. London roads are incredibly dangerous and sometimes cyclists are part of the problem. You know what they’re like: they don’t care about regulations; traffic lights don’t apply to them. I have yet to see a cyclist stopping at a light and waiting there patiently for it to turn green: they always zoom through. As a pedestrian, it really annoys me and I probably should slap them, but I have a nagging feeling I would do the same if I ever took my bike out – which I don’t.

We’ve just had a meeting with the managing agents of the block of flats I live in (my partner and I belong to the Residents’ Association’s Committee) and the question of where to put our bikes came up. Bikes are not allowed in the communal parts, of course, and there’s currently nowhere they can be parked, so most residents keep them in their flats (see, I’m not the only one). But, a little while ago, the managing agents threatened to ban them from everywhere. They said one wouldn’t be able to even cross the communal parts carrying or pushing one’s bike, in case it damaged the walls or something. The lifts shouldn’t be used either in case the wall covering of those lifts got scratched. Outraged, we asked them to find a space to put racks in. Somewhere secure and preferably protected from the elements. They said they would think about it.

I have to slap them for looking at the problem the wrong way:
1) you allow and even encourage people to own bikes, because they’re good for the environment, for health, etc.
2) you create a space for them to keep those bikes
3) then, and only then, you worry about the potential damage to the building and find reasonable solutions to the problem

Who gives more importance to a wall covering than to people’s health or the environment? Slap!


  1. Yep. They deserve a BIG, FAT, SLAP.

    But since you don't ever use your bike, maybe someone else should get to make the first punch. Someone who actually takes their bike out of their flat.

  2. Hey, I used to have a folding bike! I never see them anymore.

    Slapping with you, J. Those rules are ridiculous.

  3. TLP, I know it's ridiculous, isn't it? I mean my not taking the bike out. I might get rid of it: it makes me feel guilty.

    R, I see lots of tiny bikes everywhere. Some are incredibly expensive - mine wasn't, luckily.

    I hope the managing agents come up with a solution soon.

    qsjcjcpd: my initials in a sandwich!

  4. Anyone who makes bicycling more difficult than it already is deserves a slap. Perhaps, just this once they could get a kick - I can do more damage with my legs than my well manicured fist.

    Funny you should post this-I am gone for the next few days to cycle the Cabot Trail! It's a mecca for cyclists-incredible scenery, rough terrain-it's epic. And, if I go to the Superstore in Port Hawkesbury, there is a chance I will see Ethan Hawke or Donald Sutherland!

    qhevlllz-the sound I will make, if I make it up Smokey Mountain.
    Carole! (too excited to slap properly!)

  5. C, that ride sounds wonderful and I hope you bump - not literally, of course - into Ethan Hawke and Donald Sutherland. :-)

    I think that's what I envisioned when I acquired my bike(s). Momentarily forgot I live in Central London. LOL!

  6. Bike and J - OFF TOPIC

    Well, this post is throwing me really back in times.
    All of my friends were jealous of my first new bike; it was a French Peugeot silver bike. The used bike was sent to my country by the parents of my old cousin.

    My firs bike ever was the used bike of J

  7. We used to live Rue des Archives, in Paris, and opposite our building was a small, quiet street; I used to ride my bike there from time to time, but mostly when on holiday in the country. When we moved to Nice, there was nowhere for me to ride it, so I passed it on to you, Elan. I actually came with the bike, you know. I left it behind when I went back home.

    Shall I send you this one, then? LOL!

  8. I love the story of the bike you left behind, J. But I can't get this Mary Poppinesque image out of my head of you on the current bike, tooling around London, brandishing an umbrella. Woe to the pedestrian in your way! xoxo

  9. M, the whole point is that I don't ride around London on my bike; I just look at it longingly every day...

    Apparently the caretaker's daughter couldn't ride the bike I sold him (he told me this morning when he came up with the plumber - don't ask) so he gave it away. Now he wants my other one. LOL!


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