Yearning for a bike of my own was one of my major pre-occupations when I was a child. Bicycles were a precious item and you had to really earn ownership of one.
Over time I cadged rides off other kids, including my big sister, just for the sheer pleasure of being able to ride a bike for a few minutes.
A bicycle was a valued possession and parents had to invest a substantial amount to provide their offspring with a Malvern Star or Healing.
I eventually became the proud owner of a bike on my 12th birthday. It was sturdy and reliable and very red.
As years went by bikes became more easily accessible as the raw materials used for their manufacture became cheaper and more readily available.
My 12th birthday bike remained an important part of my life for decades. It never needed repairing. It was still a solid ‘performer’ when my own daughter was nine years old and she was thrilled to have it – updated with a smart new seat & handle-bars – the frame now bright green and purple.
But chain stores now offer cheap bikes of an amazing sort, size and colour and every kid everywhere seems to own their first bike by the time they are about three years old.
As the children grow, a new and bigger bike replaces the old one and even the charity shops have stopped valuing donations of used bikes; there are just too many!
Bikes are everywhere!
Imagine (all those years ago) ten-year-old me seeing multiple bikes scattered and dumped all over the place. What an unbelievable sight that would have been!
In major cities, abandoned bikes of many hues now dot surrounding footpaths, parks, rivers and trees; left to lie idle and trip the unwary. A blot on the landscape, you might say: The result of loosely controlled bike-sharing schemes gone feral.
The intrinsic value of bicycles has gone.
From a valued and yearned for acquisition to a scourge on city streets, bikes have come a long way. And it’s not a very happy story.
PS: How many bike borrowers realise that the share bike they rode and dumped is magically nabbing detailed information from the card they earlier inserted?
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.