Cycling in the media this weekend

by Tony Farrelly   March 2, 2009  

Locked bike

Couple of interesting cycling-related articles from this weekend's papers. Observer Money managed to yoke a mention of Sustrans's new Bicyclebelles scheme to a longer piece on cycle insurance.

Articles like this are worth checking out because the insurance market is so volatile that the deals on offer to cyclists can change very quickly, particularly when it comes to the dos and don'ts of adding bikes to your home contents insurance (or even whether you can add them at all). Also the companies offering specialist standalone cycle insurance have had a habit of changing.

The article compares the difference in cost and levels of cover in adding a bike worth £500 to home contents policies from some of the bigger insurers and also looks at the differences in costs and cover from the standalone insurance providers on a policy for an £800 from the likes of Cycleguard, AUA and E&L. Unsurprisingly – not many (well none) insurers specialist or otherwise mentioned in the article will pay out if you leave your bike unlocked and unattended.

Over in the Times, Cycle Girl, Emma Smith, took a look at station cycle parking and pointed out that crammed cycle racks at many stations (including her own in Cambridge) are not necessarily a sign of resurgent cycling, but of the need to up the rate at which dead and dumped bikes are cleared from cycle-parking facilities. She compares the situation at Cambridge station with that at a new cycle parking facility in Cambridge city centre that will only let you leave your bike for a maximum 24 hour stay. The facility under the city's Grand Arcade centre lays claim to being Britain's biggest free indoor cycle-parking facility (it even offers valet parking for those that want to pay).

It is surprising that in a city like Cambridge such a situation exists at the station, my guess is that this is to do with that being under the control of Network Rail rather than the local council. Certainly I remember talking to Sergeant Death (cool name, cool bloke) of the Oxford Bike Squad years ago and he said that they identified racks full of dead bikes in the city as being like vectors for crime which was why they were very proactive in having them cleared out regularly. As I recall he reckoned that not only were many of those bikes stolen but leaving them there sent out a signal to petty street criminals that the forces of law and order didn't care so much about certain types of crime in certain parts of the city.

His reasoning was that bike theft was unlikely to be the only form of theft bike criminals were engaged in. Oh, and his team had a neat trick with an expensive decoy bike that they left unlocked around Oxford to lure unsuspecting bike thieves, they took the precaution of removing a vital pawl from the freewheel so that when the tea leaf jumped on the bike to make his getaway the pedals went round but the wheels didn't… and some people say the police have no sense of humour.