Boris Johnson’s bike destroyed - by a pothole

London Mayor's faith in Transport for London's road maintenance sadly misplaced

by John Stevenson   February 18, 2014  

Boris Johnson aboard Old Bikey

Boris Johnson is in mourning — for his bike. The Mayor of London’s machine — affectionately referred to as Old Bikey in his latest column in the Telegraph — was destroyed by a fatal combination of the weather, a pothole and Mr Johnson’s touching but sadly misplaced faith in the ability of Transport for London to keep the capital’s roads in good repair.

Any of us who’ve written off a bike will be able to sympathise with Mr Johnson, who writes of his grief: “Think of Alexander grieving for his favourite mount Bucephalus, or Wellington mourning the death of the great Copenhagen.”

As he rode away from a “detailed” lunch with his father, he writes: “I saw a puddle ahead; well, not so much a puddle as an inky mere that spread six feet across the road. I wonder how deep that puddle is, I said to myself, as Old Bikey whizzed me nearer. I wondered whether I should steer round it.”

Old Bikey
Old Bikey

Not how anyone who’s ridden in London for as long as Mr Johnson would react to a possible pothole, you’d think. With just a year of riding across the City every day, my reaction would be ‘Argh! Avoid!’ But the Mayor had faith in a higher power. You have to wonder if some of the details of lunch had clouded his judgment just a little.

“I thought, nah. This is my road, a Transport for London road, serviced to the most exacting standards. To steer round a little pool of rainfall was not only wimpy; it was positively disrespectful to the superb roads-maintenance team in our Surface Transport division.”

You can guess the punchline, of course. This was not just a puddle, but the opening to a watery netherworld, and Mr Johnson rolled right into it.

“Down, down, down went the front wheel for what seemed like a very long time, before jack-knifing on some storm drain or sunken U-boat or other obstruction at the bottom; and then, sploof, I went over the handle bars before making brief but thorough contact with the wet tarmac; and, boing-oing-oing, I bounced up again – as we old rugby players have learnt to do – a millisecond before the taxi behind me could organise a swift election, and I had taken the bike off the road to assess the damage.”

On superficial inspection, all seemed to be well, but when Mr Johnson got back in the saddle, things were clearly amiss.

“When I turned one way or the other the rear wheel would lurch in the opposite direction,” he wrote. “It was like trying to run a coalition with the Lib Dems.”

A couple of bike shop visits revealed the problem to be a broken frame, “slain by the rain” after eight years of “jouncing and bouncing over potholes and cobbles”.

The silver lining to this dark cloud is that Mr Johnson now has an excuse to go shopping for a new bike and plans to correct “the only defect [Old Bikey] had”.

“It was made in California,” he wrote. “Now is the time for a bike that won’t expire beneath me, a bike that won’t snap. It’s time for a British bike.”

[Footnote: Old Bikey appears to in fact have been a Californian-designed hybrid, almost certainly actually manufactured  in Taiwan. Nevertheless we extend our sincere condolences to the Mayor on his loss.

It sounds like the Mayor could have done with to use Fill That Hole to report the gaping chasm that destroyed his bike — or maybe he was able to just call TfL personally.]

43 user comments

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oozaveared wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:
Niallsimpson wrote:
Applause Got to love Boris, when you have the dismal selection of politicians we have here in N. Ireland, it's good to see one you can laugh at... in a good way!

Which is exactly what he wants. He plays the buffoon to hide the pure, sadistic evil of neo-liberal policies. He is a very dangerous man, and if Britain is foolish and blind enough to elect this pile of feces to N° 10 Downing Street, we shall rue the day.

Boris a neo-liberal? You do know the definition of neo-liberal don't you? Maybe not.

I know the definition. You, evidently, do not.

*aside* why does this website attract so many idiots?

'Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling' (James E. Starrs)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [138 posts]
18th February 2014 - 13:46

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Cant help but wonder had he been run over by following taxi as he lay in the road what the 'punishment' would have been?

3 points and £60?

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [255 posts]
18th February 2014 - 13:54

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cyclingDMlondon wrote:

*aside* why does this website attract so many idiots?

This cant be your'e first dance, all forums attract idiots, this is nothing compared to some I have seen lately, thankfully I havent been slandered for my poor spelling or gammar for a little while, particuly as we all know, your opinion means nothing unless you can speel good Laughing

posted by jason.timothy.jones [242 posts]
18th February 2014 - 13:57

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
cyclingDMlondon wrote:

*aside* why does this website attract so many idiots?

This cant be your'e first dance, all forums attract idiots, this is nothing compared to some I have seen lately, thankfully I havent been slandered for my poor spelling or gammar for a little while, particuly as we all know, your opinion means nothing unless you can speel good Laughing

Hehe .. yeah, I've been holding back from ripping you a new one about that. Wink

Last time I posted here (a month or so back, possibly a bit longer), I ventured that 'safety lessons' for cyclists were certainly useful, but were shifting the onus for saving lives, onto the wrong people. Some mouth-breathers took issue with that.

S'funny .. Chris Boardman was saying basically the same thing yesterday...

http://road.cc/content/news/111258-chris-boardman-helmets-not-even-top-1...

'Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling' (James E. Starrs)

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posted by cyclingDMlondon [138 posts]
18th February 2014 - 14:26

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*aside* why does this website attract so many idiots?

Not that many you only got two likes. Definitions are pretty simple for most people. You match the criteria to the observed policies. It is tempting to move people you don't like or whose policies you don't like from one category to another for the purposes of hyperbole. This is common currency in people that hold extreme or polarised views themselves. Thus people that differ from them in their outlook are cast as being at the extreme end of a spectrum. In the vernacular use it is characteristic of much student politics where anyone in any authority might be cast as a fascist. It's juvenile.

I don't subscribe to Boris's policy outlook. I am not a Tory. But Boris is you see. I happen to have taken an academic interest in political science since graduating in the same in 1987. Boris is a plain old vanilla one nation Tory. Nothing so ideological or exotic as a current neo-liberal.

Good luck with your studies.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [363 posts]
18th February 2014 - 14:31

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Thought everyone who cycled knew to avoid large puddles for fear of what lay beneath!

http://matmitchellcycling.wordpress.com
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

mtm_01's picture

posted by mtm_01 [86 posts]
18th February 2014 - 14:35

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oozaveared wrote:

*aside* why does this website attract so many idiots?

Not that many you only got two likes.

Oh-oh .. appeal to popularity, anyone?

*guffaw*

{ incompetent trouser-cough snipped unread }

'Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling' (James E. Starrs)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [138 posts]
18th February 2014 - 14:55

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rogermerriman wrote:
One of the things that is nice with the old mtb while it's a heavy rather clumpy beast, I've yet to see a pothole that could trouble it, it lacks the poise of the roadie but there is something about a bike that will just roll over potholes, speed bumps, London buses etc, with just a mild woomph as the tyre deforms mildly...

Maybe you are right, but I can think of a couple of pot-holes I know of (they've been there a long time, they might even have their own names by now) where, while your bike might survive, you might need someone to throw you a rope so you could climb out again afterwards.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [497 posts]
18th February 2014 - 15:22

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mtm_01 wrote:
Thought everyone who cycled knew to avoid large puddles for fear of what lay beneath!

I avoid them because there's usually nothing beneath... for some distance!

posted by jacknorell [167 posts]
18th February 2014 - 16:07

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Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

posted by jason.timothy.jones [242 posts]
18th February 2014 - 16:11

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

Yes, but what about Boris?

posted by felixcat [167 posts]
18th February 2014 - 16:24

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felixcat wrote:
jason.timothy.jones wrote:
Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

Yes, but what about Boris?

YES BORRIS, THATS WHAT I MENT

posted by jason.timothy.jones [242 posts]
18th February 2014 - 16:53

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cyclingDMlondon wrote:
Niallsimpson wrote:
Applause Got to love Boris, when you have the dismal selection of politicians we have here in N. Ireland, it's good to see one you can laugh at... in a good way!

Which is exactly what he wants. He plays the buffoon to hide the pure, sadistic evil of neo-liberal policies. He is a very dangerous man, and if Britain is foolish and blind enough to elect this pile of feces to N° 10 Downing Street, we shall rue the day.

He is indeed a monumental shitbin.

seven's picture

posted by seven [71 posts]
18th February 2014 - 17:49

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oozaveared wrote:

Boris is a plain old vanilla one nation Tory. Nothing so ideological or exotic as a current neo-liberal.

Well, I am not sure Disraeli would see necessarily agree with that definition to be honest with you and just because someone says something doesn't necessarily mean its true, which as you've studied political science then I am sure you know. He is a Thatcherite elitist though, I hope you'd agree with that. I think that he's pretty dangerous to be honest and hides it well.

Shouldn't we take this outside to the Guardian though, I come here to forget about such things normally and have dreams of Titanium on a cro-moly budget...

posted by lerrup [14 posts]
18th February 2014 - 18:18

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lerrup wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

Boris is a plain old vanilla one nation Tory. Nothing so ideological or exotic as a current neo-liberal.

Well, I am not sure Disraeli would see necessarily agree with that definition to be honest with you and just because someone says something doesn't necessarily mean its true, which as you've studied political science then I am sure you know. He is a Thatcherite elitist though, I hope you'd agree with that. I think that he's pretty dangerous to be honest and hides it well.

Shouldn't we take this outside to the Guardian though, I come here to forget about such things normally and have dreams of Titanium on a cro-moly budget...

I was just responding to a claim that BJ was a neo-liberal. I was in fact just getting narked with the usual bunkum that gets spouted by people that chuck terms around as insults when they don't know what they mean. So very briefly in reply to you.

1 Disreali has the term attributed to him but it has a well established definition in political science terms that BJ conforms to and what is more says he conforms to

2 It is dubious that Thatcherite and Elitist are compatable terms. Even as an vociferous opponent of hers in the day she was in favour of busting up elites and diversifying power to individuals. Argue about whether that worked but the aim was to break elites in professions and elsewhere. MT was an indiviudalist.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [363 posts]
18th February 2014 - 18:39

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lerrup wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

Boris is a plain old vanilla one nation Tory. Nothing so ideological or exotic as a current neo-liberal.

Well, I am not sure Disraeli would see necessarily agree with that definition to be honest with you and just because someone says something doesn't necessarily mean its true, which as you've studied political science then I am sure you know. He is a Thatcherite elitist though, I hope you'd agree with that. I think that he's pretty dangerous to be honest and hides it well.

Shouldn't we take this outside to the Guardian though, I come here to forget about such things normally and have dreams of Titanium on a cro-moly budget...

Yes, indeed. I just allowed my deep, visceral loathing of the Conservative Party to push me to comment. As you quite rightly point out, it isn't what someone says, but what he does. Our disgusting mayor is neo-liberal. Maybe our friend thinks that reading 'Comment is Free' on The Guardian is the same as having a 'degree in political science'. Fascinating.

From neo-liberals like Johnson, you will not get and should not expect to get, anything remotely favourable to cyclists, unless you are prepared to pay. The Tory has one god and that is money. If there's profit in it for him, then he'll do something for cyclists.

'Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling' (James E. Starrs)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [138 posts]
18th February 2014 - 20:00

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userfriendly wrote:

Won't somebody think of the markup? Crying

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [130 posts]
18th February 2014 - 20:18

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wasn't it Norman Tebbit who said get on your bike ? Wink
Anyway, show me a politician of any flavour of the current lot who genuinely wants to act altruistically and I'll show you a porcine animal about to take off....

posted by arfa [350 posts]
18th February 2014 - 20:57

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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
felixcat wrote:
jason.timothy.jones wrote:
Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

Yes, but what about Boris?

YES BORRIS, THATS WHAT I MENT

"You cannot be serious."

Jon McEnroe.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
18th February 2014 - 21:42

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
rogermerriman wrote:
One of the things that is nice with the old mtb while it's a heavy rather clumpy beast, I've yet to see a pothole that could trouble it, it lacks the poise of the roadie but there is something about a bike that will just roll over potholes, speed bumps, London buses etc, with just a mild woomph as the tyre deforms mildly...

Maybe you are right, but I can think of a couple of pot-holes I know of (they've been there a long time, they might even have their own names by now) where, while your bike might survive, you might need someone to throw you a rope so you could climb out again afterwards.

I'm London based on the whole London potholes tend not to be that deep, the Tarmac tends to break up or get spread by buses etc, get deeper ones out of town,

The mtb will roll happily at speed over stuff unflustered that a car even a Chelsea tractor would cause problems to hit at anything but very low speeds.

Boris is Boris as others have said it is a show.

posted by rogermerriman [13 posts]
19th February 2014 - 15:33

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Heart: bleeds

posted by IHphoto [72 posts]
19th February 2014 - 22:26

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Errr...not a very intelligent posting this. Getting people on your side shouldn't involve calling them a pile of s... and in any case, this is a cycling website. Politics of cycling on here-yes. Lunatic postings by people with a separate agenda-no. No need to express your views in such an offensive way.

Kazthebiker

posted by kazthebiker [1 posts]
19th February 2014 - 22:33

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lol, seriously? Guy rides a bike into a pothole and it's all about the cityworks?

OK, granted this is the mayor, so it's kind of a little poetic justice, but you've got eyes for a reason...

posted by eschelar [21 posts]
20th February 2014 - 1:15

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posted by ChancerOnABike [5 posts]
20th February 2014 - 8:11

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It was only a puddle Boris, not hot water this time...

BCC

posted by BearstedCC [46 posts]
20th February 2014 - 8:15

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If there is a lesson to not believe anything you read, this is it.

posted by northstar [936 posts]
20th February 2014 - 16:27

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ha ha this is my road.. thinking it would b good quality, and not a huge pothole. u know why - dutch courage! he was drunk after lunch!! lol

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [99 posts]
20th February 2014 - 19:15

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And here comes another one...

posted by northstar [936 posts]
20th February 2014 - 19:30

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themartincox wrote:
Cant help but wonder had he been run over by following taxi as he lay in the road what the 'punishment' would have been?

3 points and £60?

Some sort of medal for services to humankind.

posted by pj [135 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:23

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And another...

posted by northstar [936 posts]
20th February 2014 - 23:16

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