I have recently acquired a new computer, and that has caused me to spend much of the recent weekend rootling through all the data that got transferred from the old machine to the new, if only to get used to using Windows 7. In the course of this rootling, I came across this photo, taken almost exactly three years ago, on December 19th 2007. This at first got my attention simply because I thought it a striking picture. I had been looking for something to put on my personal blog. But then I realised, it’s transport related:
This kind of thing has become a much more regular part of the London scene than it ever was when I were a lad. Partly (guess) it’s the Green thing. Are there tax money and tax break bribes available for such enterprises, now, the way there never used to be? Partly (another guess - Michael?) it’s that London, which used to be a First World city, now has First World stuff, Second World stuff (in the form of huge and ugly Sovietesque housing estates) and Third World stuff, like guys making a living riding bicycle-taxis for tourists. I’m guessing that all the world’s cities are becoming like this, more varied within themselves, more like each other in there being the same kind of First-Second-Third World variety everywhere.
But I wonder, is there also a technological component? Have things happened to bicycle design and bicycle technology that make it easier to peddle such things than used to be the case?
I photoed that earlier in the week, yards from my home.
Are any laws being broken? I’d like to think: not.
After all, there seem to be thingies sticking out from the back axle, to enable such passenger transport. Presumably the Law would have been all over that, if the Law says no to this kind of thing.
I give it three years. If only to stop private enterprise competing with Boris bikes.
Boris bikes (named thus after Mayor of London Boris Johnson) have gone from non-existent to ubiquitous, seemingly in no time.
There is a clump of them (with a regular bike in the foreground) which I encountered in Lower Marsh, just beyond Waterloo Station.
Another example of vehicles as adverts.
So, okay, Boris bikes are transport, but how are they themselves transported? After all, you can’t rely on the punters exactly balancing everything out, can you? Excesses will accumulate here, dearths there. How is that corrected?
Moments after taking the above snap, I found out:
Cue comment from our very own Lord of the Carbon Footprint, Michael J, about all the other such schemes there are in the world. Like in Melbourne.
I’m actually having my second string bike rebuilt around a new frame at the moment. One like this. It wasn’t until I rode my best bike up the hill on the way home from work the other week - I figured the weather was far too nice to “slum it” - that I realised quite what a limp noodle the other bike was. It’s a six year old aluminium frame that probably wasn’t the best in the first place. On the best bike you can feel the power going down onto the road. On the other you can feel it wilting beneath you. You get used to it of course. The novel becomes normal very quickly.
So I’m riding into work Thursay morning, on the best and presently only road bike, climbing the same hill as before but in the other direction; when I catch up with a fellow long distance commuter. “Ooh, De Rosa”, he says. “Yours isn’t too shabby either,” I reply. It was a Time VX! So there we are, at 8:30 on a beautiful sunny morning, both cruising up the hill towards Nelson’s Column on our carbon fibre bikes.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.
Wearing a helmet in a serious collision with a car is like hiding under a table in Hiroshima in ‘45.
Yes, they have their uses by they’re not a panacea.
While I’m not an avid reader of the weekend newspaper motoring sections I do like to read what Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times and James May in the Saturday Telegraph have come up with. Both writers take an entertaining, sideways look at ‘motoring’ - not a word I’m keen on really. The opening three quarters of Clarkson’s column is usually about some off-at-a-tangent topic which he’ll then, almost as if by magic, manage to relate to the car he’s supposed to be reviewing. I say usually because I seem to recall him waffling on about cheese for the entire article once when he couldn’t think of a single worthwhile thing to say about a Vauxhall Vectra. Meanwhile May often whitters on about old Jaguars or his Porsche Boxter with the brown trim in his charming, affable young fogey style.
This week: Clarkson, in his roundabout fashion, reviews the Renault Clio Sport 197, a 2-litre hot hatch which supposedly includes air vents behind the front wheels and a ground effects inducing ‘diffuser under the rear bumper’ which are by products of their Formula One programme. Along the way we get treated to Clarkson’s views on Michael Schumacher (he’s a fan), Fernando Alonso (a fish nicker!), F1 and the dwindling appeal of the hot hatch. Cracking stuff.
James May on the other hand ruminates on torque. I remember Newton Metres and turning moments from school physics lessons but had never really fathomed what they were up to within cars. And now, thanks to James, I do. It’s just a shame he over did the Newton Metres with his two-foot long wrench.
“I’m not loaning it to Richard Hammond because he’ll ride it into a field and turn it upside down,” he said. “It’s the first bike you can ride without wearing muesli sandals and a beard. It’s Lance Armstrong and Frank Whittle in one.”
Oh, and his saddle is set far too low.
Having said that, I have long had doubts about the safety benefits of wearing a helmet. As with trains, it is far better to avoid the accident than attempt to survive it. A helmet is bound to a distraction. It had never occurred to me that it might have an effect on other road users.