I was wondering at work today why my arms and shoulders were aching so much, when I remembered what had caused it. We’d decided to take the bikes and train to Barnes to see the birdies and of course taking the bike on the train also involves dragging a reluctant bike up and down several flights of steps (this may also explain the black oilstains on my trousers) not to mention wrestling it out of the way of passengers wanting to get on and off the trains through the entrance areas which, on the older trains at least, seemed to have been carefully designed so that one bike can’t help but block the entire area. If there’s anything more awkward to manhandle than a bike, I’ve not encountered it. Mine seemed to grow at least seven extra pedals, decided to weigh several extra tons, and sprout handlebars in all directions. How people manage to squeeze their bikes on actual commuter services (and sleep at night), I have no idea.
But anyway, we got there, and it was jolly nice, and not only did they have bike racks for your bike but they also had what I can only describe as bike cupboards as well. You wheel your bike in, you put your helmet and anything else on the handy shelf, and lock the whole thing up with your own bike lock so there’s no faffing around with padlocks and combinations and you’re off. Not only is your bike secure but so are your wheels, your pedals, your saddle and more importantly your fiddly little (and rather expensive for a couple of small pieces of plastic) light brackets. One of those ideas which struck me at the time as both brilliant and blindingly obvious. So why can’t we have them at Vauxhall?*
Anyway, we were looking for interesting rarities at the Wetland Centre, but the real rara avis that we spotted was actually at the station itself. I didn’t dare take a picture for fear of arrest so you’ll just have to believe me: there were bin bags. As in the things that used to serve as bins before they were removed from every other station in London for security reasons. What do the people of Barnes know that we don’t? Have they signed a separate deal with Al Quaeda? Or have they just decided that the security risk of someone managing to hide a bomb in a see-through plastic bag is clearly ridiculously low? I think we should be told.
* Apart from the fact, which only occurred to me later, that the good people of Vauxhall might not stop at locking their bikes up in them. Unattended bags, annoying small children, overflow prisoners from the local jail … the possibilities are endless