Square bicycle sale. Ghost bikes. Heath burn-off.

10 Jun

Cars for sale (not at a used-car dealers on an old World War 2 bomb site) parked on the street, have been common in England for several decades now. With a sign in the window showing price, MOT status, and a phone number to call, they appear to be legal.

But a gents bicycle, chained to a cycle stand with a similar sign taped on the cross-bar, outside W H Smiths in Bournemouth Square today, was a new one to me! One year old, £100. Not a bad-looking bike, but for £70 you can buy new (admittedly with cheap and soft driving parts) from the big stores.

I trust the bike will be removed for the hours of darkness. The one thin chain, round one bar, is not going to stop the front wheel and the saddle from being taken the first night. The back wheel will take a little longer. That’s if the wheels are not stomped into a twist.

In a now-deleted WordPress blog, my digest, I processed a story from LA metroblogs about Ilya Pankin, a cyclist killed by a van at the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards about four years ago.

A memorial organised by Midnite Riders with Sean Bonner, was held at the intersection next to a bicycle painted white, a “ghost bike”, at the fountain which you can see if you zoom down on Google Earth (the fountain, not the ghost bike).

Only the second ghost bike I have heard of has been sited on the Wareham by-pass, where Robert Jefferies was fatally knocked from his machine by an 18-year-old driver. Robert’s sister-in-law wrote to the Bournemouth Daily Echo, mentioning this, and reporting a memorial cycle ride from Sandbanks to Swanage by Poole Wheelers.

She is from Park Grove (where my Dad went to primary school 100 years ago) in York. He cycled all his life. My four siblings and I had bicycles too. My mother rarely used hers, having asthma. York was known to be second only to Oxford in the numbers of bicycles per the population.

Are today’s kids, grown into car-drivers, less inclined to accept the right of cyclists to share the road? I have no data. The shops are well stocked with wheels for children, from tiny tots right on through to teenagers. So it is a minority of young adults who never rode a bicycle.

There are way more cars. Mass car ownership started with the Ford Popular in the mid 1950s, and the Standard 8, the Morris Minor, and the Austin A40. But most car drivers are safe with cyclists. A few on leisure rides carry bikes on racks for off-road excursions.

I always used to take full part in the waving on (after you, mate) when I cycled (up until 15 months ago). But in society in general there are always a few, either brutalised in babyhood, or born genetically throw-back cavemen) who mess it up for the rest of us.

One last thing in today’s diary piece: there was the biggest heath-land fire for years outside Broadstone, in the greater built-up area centered upon Bournemouth. No doubt thousands of tiny lizards retreated into crevices, some to survive for breeding up the population levels again.

No doubt the roots of allegedly rare and important orchids (tatty little blue flowers) survived to grow again at the first rain. No doubt gorse and bracken are glad of a clear-out of grotty old material ready for bursting forth uselessly again.

If these areas of land, useless for both arable and also most grazing purposes, is not built up with streets of houses and their tidy gardens, they continue the cycle of grow and burn off, with or without the help of wild juvenile male arsonists.

Only local newspapers and conservation activists benefit. The papers get to write sensationally-illustated stories. And the conners get to feel righteous.  


One Response to “Square bicycle sale. Ghost bikes. Heath burn-off.”

  1. Vincent June 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    There are of course certain plants that can ONLY propagate when there’s a forest fire. And forest fires were around LONG before smokers. Lightning, mostly. (Although I suppose a white, curved piece of rock COULD start one – but it’d be a helluva fluke!)

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