Whatever you may think of Boris Johnson he did once ride a bicycle, and that’s the only plausible explanation of the latest Government lunacy. In a striking advance towards utopian socialism, the Conservatives are about to give everybody £50 to get their bikes fixed.
How to spend it? If you’re a regular cyclist, you’ll be happy to go into your local shop and say “do what you can for £50” knowing that bike mechanics like things to work and want to give you the best possible value for your hard unearned cash. The money is not really for you though. It’s supposed to encourage all those people, who’ve allowed their machines to decay unused in the back garden, to clean them up and become part of the new micro-mobility revolution.
“The scheme will be open to anyone who has an unused cycle in need of attention. The aim is to help them get it back on the road by providing £50 toward the cost of a service and repair, up to two cycles per household.”
Perhaps it will work? In the spirit of “go to work, don’t go to work” people are being told not to use public transport, and while the polls suggest that many people want to ride their bikes more, the same data suggests that just as many intend to drive more. The latter is – of course – unsustainable. There will have to be some kind of restriction, but given peoples unwillingness to change their lifestyle, this may come with a severe political backlash.
I welcome the initiatives idealistic spirit but, for retailers, it may turn out to be a mixed blessing. At the moment we already have too much to do. Capacity is finite, especially in competent bike mechanics. There’s the problem of “bicycle shaped objects” and the shutdown has inspired much optimism among hoarders of corroded metal. A back of the envelope calculation suggests the money is worth £10,000 for every bike shop in the country, but will it be £10,000 of extra business or just extra bureaucracy and lots of unfixable bikes?
Regular riders will be cheered and encouraged by this unexpected gift. Get online now, tell your friends, your mum, your work colleagues! Share the joy!