London’s Velib Bike Scheme Arrives

London Cycle Hire Bikes

Suddenly this morning all the empty London Cycle Hire bikestands are full (or semi-full) with spanking new bikes, along with intrigued Londoners staring at them. As of yet though I’ve only seen someone pushing a bike around, not actually cycling on one so no idea how they work in practice.

This is all very exciting, and now we just have to see how Londoners take to the scheme which has met with varying levels of success in other cities around the world. Hopefully it will get more cyclists on the road as planned and reduce some of the overhead on the city’s public transport, as well as helping to push London as a city for cyclists (we can but dream). As for me, I may sign up – even though I already have a bike – as we live in the central part of London it’s easy to just grab one, cycle to work and park it nearby. Then for any evening trips the same tactic can work without fear of bike theft and the hassle of locking them up.

Of course now we just have to see how the bikes survive the attentions of some of the more Neanderthal natures in British culture… from random destruction and ‘happy slapping’ to drunken cycling and urination. Excelsior!

The End of a Toronto Institution?

I’m being slightly slow on the uptake here – last week the owner of the Bicycle Clinic on Queen Street West, Toronto was arrested for massive bicycle theft. The shop, a small hole in the wall location in the middle of trendy Queen Street, was raided last week and along with other locations, found to hold almost 3,000 bikes – all believed to be stolen. Pretty impressive work.

I’d walked past the Bicycle Clinic pretty much every time I’ve been to Toronto, the last time being a few months back. The place is a local institution, but it transpires this is more to do with every local knowing that if their bike was stolen they should head down to retrieve it (by argument or money) from the owner. Now the lengthy process of returning the stolen bikes to their rightful owners continues as a neighbourhood story ends.