This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 35.
Cars and our freedom to drive
[This is a genuine letter received out of the blue, apparently from someone who doesn’t live anywhere near Cambridge. It shows just how far we have to go to overcome some of the hostility we sometimes receive from motorists.]
I have just visited your web site, in error, and what a load of old rubbish. The world depends on the car and speed to function, develop and move forward in time. We don’t all live in the past. It’s a good job there are so many of you in even smaller organisations so that you won’t have too much influence. The motor car isn’t the problem, ill disciplined, often drunk, cyclists are. I will actively seek out pro-motoring organisations now and join up as fast as I can.
Mystery of the Locked Locks
I can solve your mystery.
A few years ago, a friend visited me with his Brompton. He was doing some research at one of the college libraries but had forgotten to bring a lock. I lent him a spare I had. On his last day in Cambridge, he was heading straight for the train after a morning at the library, so we agreed that he’d leave my lock locked to a railing, and post me back the key with details of where to find it. Unfortunately, the envelope arrived with a great deal of padding but also a hole where the key had nevertheless managed to slip out. The post office told me there was no chance of finding the key, Madison told me that I had bought that lock during a brief period when their keys had a design change, so they couldn’t replace it even though I still had the key number, and the lock remained on the same railing for a few years before I noticed it had finally been removed.
In answer to your mystery of the wayward bike locks:
As bike locks are heavy, and used mainly when the bike is in public, I reckon some people leave their locks on a stand then, when they cycle to this same spot unlock the lock and put it around their bike. Quite what they would do if they needed to stop somewhere else before hand I don’t know.
Alternatively, with much cynicism of the human condition, these locks were not passed through a closed loop of the bike – just around the seat post or handle bar. As such, the bike was stolen merely by lifting the lock over the bike part and cycled off!