Friday, 29 July 2011

Mr Big Bike Thief Busted

I hope you like my News of the World inspired headline. This post is all about celebrating catching a bike thief. Yes, I take my hat off to the clever police people who make up the Cycle Task Force of London. You might have seen them cruising the cycle lanes of the capital during the past year, but I’ll tell you, they have been doing more than just cruising....! These cycle officers have been working on reducing organised bike crime in London which involves working alongside online sites such as Gumtree and ebay where many bikes are often resold on. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the other day that 22,536 bikes were stolen in London between June 2010 and May 2011, and these are just the reported thefts! W.O.W.Z.E.R.S.

Safety Advice
Look how cool they are...       Ref:

So it looks like the Cycle Task Force have got more than their hands full. Well folks, I was pleased to read that they have made a break through! They have managed to catch a prolific bike thief by the name of Tariq Hasi aka Mr BIG (what’s that name about??). Mr BIG lives in Hammersmith and was sentenced the other day for 14 months on account of money laundering and fraud including the selling of stolen bikes online. Here he is in my mock jail picture, nice..

Tariq Hasi aka Mr. Big

It’s a happy ending all round because Mr Big won’t be terrorising the cycle community for another 14 months and on top of that the Cycle Task Force recovered 10 stolen bikes from his property which have subsequently been reunited with their rightful owners. There is hope after all. This sends a message out to all those other bike thieving no-gooders!

Well done, I pat the backs of the Cycle Task Force. So kids, remember to LOCK UP YOUR BIKES!
....Actually, unfortunately that isn’t enough to keep your bike out of the wrong hands! Make sure you also do the following:
  • Buy a decent lock (preferably two!)
  • Security mark it (the cycle task force do this for free)
  • Register your bike online
  • Get insurance
  • Store your bike somewhere inside if you can
  • Don’t spend a lot of money on your bike
Believe me, if you don’t enforce these measures than its only a matter of time before your bike is pinched and the clock is ticking. In fact, I need to take some of my own advice!

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Bicycle Library

London has many quirks to its name – Boris Johnson, oh so courteous taxi drivers and of course lets not forget the gilded statue of Dodi Fayed and Diana in Harrods (!!). So fancy my surprise when I stumbled across this bus yesterday right next to London Fields-
This isn't the Venga bus, but a mobile bicycle library!

If you think libraries are boring then you haven’t paid a visit to this bus. It exudes European urban, charm and looks like something out of the film MicMacs. It’s not just all about books either, but has an array of bicycle accessories to buy, many of which are cleverly recycled from rubber tyres. It also offers the service of ‘checking out’ bikes to rent. There is even a friendly librarian to hand if you need any help and advice.

My favourite part of the bus is the top deck which offers bicycle literature you can peruse whilst sitting next to one of these chaps.

Only cool kids sit on the top deck
So if you are ever in the area, make sure to visit this bus stop and get yourself a bicycle library card just like these two did.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Tale of Two Boris Bikers

Since moving to London I have been enthralled with the novelty of the cycle hire scheme.  And recently I have found out that that these Barclays Beauties offer more than a cheap, quick way to nip across the city. Let me tell you a tale about two Boris bikers.

My friend commutes everyday on a Boris Bike (yes, she lives in zone 1 and works in zone 1, it’s alright for some!). On one average, grey morning she found herself unintentionally racing against another fellow Boris Biker, whom like her had cunningly eyed up the last available space in the docking station.


Just as she was revelling in her speedy efforts of winning the race, out of nowhere another person snuck in and stole the last space. This left my dear friend and new racing acquaintance out of breath and dismayed. But all was not lost, the new challenge of scouting another docking station with spaces nearby provided the perfect opportunity for an early morning flirt and a swap of phone numbers. I don’t see this happening between the windows of a Ford Mondeo and Renault Cleo for the last parking space in Tesco.
So Boris, I salute you for giving more than pay as you go cycling.....Maybe I should start a Boris Bike dating service? Watch out folks....

By the way, she went on one date and it didn’t work out....better luck next time.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fashion Fatality

I have to say, it’s tough being stylish when on the road. I have encountered my first ever cycling fashion fatality. Let me give you some background. Shoe problems are the undercurrent of my life, just as I get settled with a pair and they fit like a glove, they then fall apart on me. And once again this is what has happened. This time they weren’t a victim of my heavy, clumsy stomp, but rather one of cycling. Please see pictures below for evidence:

Specimen A

Specimen B

Note that in specimen B, the right shoe is split in half. This is the foot I lean on when stopping at the pesky traffic lights on my bike. Maybe I should lower my saddle?? Or maybe I should sue the council for making me stop at the lights?...mmmm.  Suggestions welcome please.

Anyhow, now that I have succumbed to yet another shoe misfortune, this has led me down the road of having a summer shoe crisis. I know what you're thinking, it's tough being Jemma. Maybe I’m just finicky but a 50’s style; flat peep-toe shoe ensemble is just not out there. Perhaps I should invest in a pair of these instead?.....


....or maybe not. The shoe hardship continues.....

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Future is cardboard...

When a friend sent me this link the other day, I was really excited. It’s a helmet made from cardboard! I never thought that putting a box on my head would be so protective, but here it is, the ‘Kranium Helmet’.

Picture reference:

Apparently cardboard has overtaken polystyrene in the race to protect our heads when cycling. It boasts to 'absorbing 4 times the amount of energy’ of regular helmets.

This will long solve the ongoing argument I have with a friend about the safety of cyclists on Boris Bikes without helmets. She thinks helmets should be compulsory and accessible to all bike renters, I don’t (I’m a rebel). But if there was a vending machine with these folded up wonders neighbouring a docking station, then it would mean everyone has the opportunity to cycle safely at the spur of the minute. Although what happens when it rains...?

Check out the article here.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

North London and Beyond

Now time to give you some context to my cycling commute.
My journey takes me through the leafy back roads of north London (sounds nice doesn’t it?) to the crowded streets of the City - Crouch Hill to Moorgate.
I liken my bike ride to an arcade game. There are key hazards to be aware of if you want to reach the end alive.
Number 1 Hazard
The classic Hornsey Road White Van Man. Takes no prisoners and flocks in the dozens. Something about this road attracts these vans and it’s certainly not my legs. Although, always important to note if wearing a skirt, ensure it is appropriately hitched down when passing this white nemesis.

Number 2 Hazard
Having a boyfriend being a major Arsenal fan, I expected he would salute the stadium every time we cycled passed (I know, absurd behaviour, but this is some of the levels football leads people too). Nevertheless, as part of my football education it turns out that the salute depends on if they are doing well......No salutes today then.
Number 3 Hazard
I give you the newly named ‘Brompton Black spot' or Barnsbury road. Right through the backstreets of Angel, these bad boy bikes (ehm) are in their element. There’s nothing like having one over take you with a smug look in toe. Sorry Mr. Brompton, the idea is good but the look just ain’t chic.... I love you really Brompton, you're just too pricey for my modest pay pack! Anyway, beware of getting tangled and overtaken by these mini wheeled divas.

Number 4 Hazard
ZONE 1. Main aim is to STAY ALIVE. Hazards include everything you can possibly see which is moving, that includes City boys in suits. Necessary skills include staying alive and staying alive.
Number 5 Hazard
Realisation that I have made it to WORK. Oh my.

Game over. 10 miles a day, 640 calories lighter and 10 times sweatier!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Bike Break-Up

I never used to be a serial bike cheater until my first love died a rusty death at the clutches of three salty Brighton winters. Yes, I liken the day I had to abandon my 'Beatrice the Basket Bike' to such events as my cat dying or when I realised I was too old for a young persons rail card (I am still young).

Since Beatrice's death by oxidisation in 2008, cycling was never the same again. I have since had affairs with 3 bicycles and I am now about to commit to my fourth.

I'm passing up my shameful attempt at dipping my toe into the single speed style revolution. Trying to pull off Dalston chic was more like can't-afford-to-have-any-gears-numskull. Other cyclists often give me the 'she doesn't know what she is doing' look, their eyes sympathising over this poor woman straining up the hill, and I know they want to cry 'you can change your gear, love'. Alas, smug faces all round. 'No Mr Lycra, does it look like this bike has cogs and a DERAILLEUR!' Enough about single speed exasperation and back to my bike polygamy.

Well folks...

Today I broke up with my single speed love affair...

Goodbye sturdy Raleigh shopper Caprice aka 80's warrior. I won’t miss you.