H G Wells quote up there and a pretty nice one I think. I recently came back from working in Switzerland (yes, not great for my carbon footprint, but in my defence it was work not play - I don't play by plane, which is easier than it sounds as I loathe flying) and was interested to find that in the small town I was in they give you bicycles for free for the day. Just leave a deposit of 20 francs and off you go. Obviously, if they did that in London they would never see those little machines again, which is just a sad fact about the modern Brits.Yes, I know there is a bike scheme here, but only 30 minutes is free (plus £1 to activate) but it then goes up in price at an alarming rate, ending with £50 for a whole day. Perhaps I am missing the point of the scheme though. Anyway, getting back on topic, I loved being back on a bike and definitely want one as part of my future. This is where it got interesting. I haven't, to my shame, owned a bike since I wore unflattering 80's silk shirts and was so thin that you couldn't see me sideways and would like to know when the price of a bike went from a few pounds of saved up pocket money to closer to £1000. What did I miss? A quick walk around my local bike shop and I couldn't quite believe the prices I was seeing. To be fair, I was only looking out of interest, as I want a second hand one, after all, I won't be setting new records or cycling around the world, obviously those who want a £700 bike will be doing all of the above. I have been in London for 19 years and I am always in awe of those people who actually brave the traffic on a bike. This above all else is why I stopped cycling. I am assuming it is a tad safer in the beautiful North.
So I have to accept that gone are the days that you just grabbed your cheap bike and went off somewhere, now you need all the kit that goes with it - florescent tops, helmets, locks. Not that I am complaining about safety features, all for the good, but it just seemed yet another pastime that has become a commercial circus. I am sure there are hundreds of unused bikes out there and yet more are made and sold to be unused.
Well to highlight my point I was telling my mum about the Swiss system and complaining about the bikes prices here and guess what? She and my dad bought a bike about 2 years ago and then found it too heavy to get in and out of a car (the irony was not lost on me) and so the poor machine went into the garage and has never even been ridden. Clever use of money mum.
Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of a second hand, yet never used bike. Now I need a small loan to buy all the extra equipment.........