Stabbed to death for a bike.
The Tern GSD S10 Cargo bike. Sustainable middle-class chic. Designed to carry two panniers plus 2 toddlers. Available with 2 battery packs. An all-up weight of 200Kg and an all-up price of £4,200. Ditch the car and free the streets from congestion and pollution. Begin your own environmental crusade. This is a popular ‘official fantasy’ for the chattering classes. Reinforced by the endless diet of news stories, emotions and powerful images buying an electric bike can be regarded as a religious act. Even recent changes to the Highway Code reinforces the dream. The reality however is closer to a nightmare.
Every 60 seconds a bike is stolen in the UK. A £4,000 bike is insurable but the lock will need to be as heavy as a toddler. Some shops offer to store bike locks for regular customers. This deters thieves & is a welcome development. But thieves increasingly threaten cyclists. Brutal attacks are not uncommon. However, if you are prepared to live with that irritation, there is another challenge to overcome. Every day a cyclist is killed or injured. In Britain a cyclist’s life is cheap.
The gap between the £4,000 car-free fantasy and urban reality could not be wider. If the chattering classes want their pedal-power fantasy they need to start being honest with themselves. They need to understand:
Why bike theft in the UK is rampant?
Where do all these stolen bikes go?
Why the police rarely convict thieves? and
What possesses someone to attack another person with extreme violence for their bike?; which may quite often not be worth much.
High car theft in the 60s and 70s was overcome by huge improvements in car security. Bicycle security can be improved by enforcing the law, by councils and retailers offering secure storage facilities outside shops and railway stations, bike wardens, storage cages, CCTV etc etc. An array of simple measures can be put in place to deal with the issue. If this means a £10 annual bicycle license or local charge then why not ? The benefits for town centres of keeping cars to a minimum are obvious.
Perhaps the sad truth is that the chattering classes want this to remain part of their dreamworld. Part of a utopian fiction they love to read about in the Sunday newspapers. A pipe dream which will never be realised.