I don’t want to ride your bicycle

July 26, 2010 2 Comments


I walked by an accident scene this morning.

A cyclist was lying in the middle of the road with police and ambulance around him; though he looked okay. He was moving, attempting to sit up, no signs of blood or damage. It was a busy crossroads. I imagine it was his fault. It happens.

The problem isn’t that it happens quite a lot. The problem is that it’s likely going to happen more and more.

There are a lot of cyclists in London, and many commuters use them as a way to get to work. They’re a menace…or at least many of them are.

They go down the streets in the wrong direction; they run red lights; they cycle slowly in bus lanes; they just don’t seem to care about the rules of the road. It’s no wonder why motorists dislike them.

Unfortunately a new cycle hire scheme is going live in Central London on Friday which means 6000 new bicycles will be put onto the London roads.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it meant that 6000 drivers were suddenly cycling instead of driving, but it doesn’t.

It does, however, mean that many more people, including tourists, can simply hop on a bike and cycle to their desired destination.

I think if you go out and buy a bike it shows commitment. You are wanting to cycle somewhere, and as well as the bike you may go that extra mile to assist yourself. Perhaps making sure you’ve done a proficiency course; perhaps read up on the highway code; and perhaps even buying a helmet to wear.

Not so when it comes to this cycle hire scheme and, once you’ve quickly signed up, you can have a bike free of charge for 30 minutes.

So, here we have a lot of people who are likely to be amateurs at cycling, let alone cycling in London at rush hour, who are suddently now in charge of a bicycle.

Then we have the tourists, who are are likely in the same boat, or perhaps a smaller more rickety one because they may not be used to London at all and not know where they need to go, how to get there and how busy the roads are. It’s sometimes bad enough when they’re just walking and not paying attention let alone when they are zipping along on a bike, trying to sneak a glimpse at the nearest tourist attraction and not paying attention to the roads or the build up of irate cars and cyclists behind them.

Then of course we have the drunks, who instead of wishing to pay out for a taxi home decide they could easily make the journey on those new shiny bikes which have popped up beside their usual watering hole and, conveniently, near their house.

All of these people, taking to the streets on these new bikes.

All of them without a helmet being provided.

You can go ahead and call me a cynic, but I also feel that the condition of the bikes will lead to yet more accidents. It’s all nice and well having your own bike which is your pride and joy, but you would care less with one that you are just hiring. Sure, there are simple methods to let the organisers know when a bike is faulty…but what does that actually do, and what exactly is faulty?

At the start of the scheme I’m sure all reports will be responded to quite quickly with the bikes taken away for repair and put back into circulation within 24 hours.

That’s an easy thing to do when everything is new and there is a lot of press on the subject.

What about a year down the line when the natural wear and tear takes a toll on the bikes and hundreds are in need of repair at one time. They’re not all going to get fixed so quickly, and a broken reflector can be just as fatal as a broken spoke.

I could be wrong.

I often am.

Indeed, I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that this scheme works efficiently, and safely, and that London turns into a cycling capital with everyone gliding along happily as if they were going for a nice relaxing picnic in the countryside.

I can’t see it though.

Stay safe out there…and please wear a helmet. Or consider walking.