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!