Tim Ireland thinks David Cameron is a moron. Normally I’d agree with him (although for “moron” I’d substitute “weird crypto-aristocratic melty-faced greenwashing muffintop of a pointmissing waste of political capital”). But not in this case.
Call Me Dave should never have trusted his bike to a bollard, I admit. But to describe the weird assemblage of dogleg-height metal rails outside the Tesco’s in question a “perfectly serviceable rail” in the context of securing your bike requires a stretch of the imagination that I’m unable to make.
You might manage to secure a bike to it if you had some genetic condition that meant you were only three foot tall and had to endure the mockery of using a child’s tricycle owing to your tiny frame. Having never met the Camster in person I couldn’t comment on that: they can do wonderful things with Photoshop these days, like making wee little folk look like giants, and preventing their bizarrely reflective faces from causing lens flare. Or you could just about reach the rails if your bike was actually a yuppie foldup scooter, which seems entirely more in character; if that were the case, though, and if I were its owner, I’d just be praying it got nicked.
In fact, unless perspective is entirely off in that picture, my insurance-mandated bike lock won’t reach from that rail to my frame, and if I were to pass the lock through just my wheel then I’d probably return to a charrming and eccentric Dali-watch artwork of a bicycle, that I’d have to drag to the nearest cycle shop for replacement spokes.
The question becomes: how far would El Camion have had to go to find decent bike parking? Maybe if nearby cycling provision hadn’t almost certainly been (a) rubbish and (b) far less than the average provision at supermarkets for cars, then cyclists such as Camo’ might have been able to secure the very mode of transport that everyone’s meant to be encouraging them to choose.
Mind you, Melty Head’s constituents have quite obvious form for such almost wilful neglect of public and leased space, in terms of encouraging bicycle use. Provision at the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in Witney is appalling, the former hamstrung by the stylistic requirement of having big fat wooden verticals that you can’t secure a wheel to, and the latter consisting entirely of a few dozen wheelbenders: both of these assembled insults to good cycling sit in the looming tarmac shadow of hundreds and hundreds of car parking spaces. I can’t imagine the planning meeting for either development would have even discussed it in anything other than a token manner, though.
The actual municipal provision in the town is the most lacklustre and insufficient that I’ve seen of a somewhere its size. There’s pretty much nothing other than a couple of sets of wheelbender racks; both bent and jiggered in places; both dismally in the way of pedestrians (but of course out of the way of cars); both hidden like embarrassed afterthoughts, plonked behind respectively the chip shop and Sandwich de Witney. Yes, Sandwich de Witney. Still, at least local council tax is so low, right? Stops the benefit scroungers stealing parking spaces for our SUVs, right? God bless true-blue Wod-see!
Still, however discouraging the local Tory attitudes are to any fool trying to travel round in anything other than enormous disguised urban tractors with all the handling of a moose on quaaludes, I can’t really agree with Jonathan Calder when he says in the context of anti-theft measures:
“Who wants to own a bicycle at all under such circumstances?”
because, well, I do. I did. I owned a literally Giant GSR, covered in masking tape, for years and years, until the tape dried out and fell off and the bottom bracket started tearing its own threads out at around eight thousand miles.
Owning a bike to me is like owning legs: I’m not that fussed if they’re hairy. I don’t mean that I’ve got a hairy bike. But if you demand the choice of a beautiful rather than smooth-running vehicle as a prerequisite to your velocipedophilia, then you’re missing the point.