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1 April 2014 3 comments
London Traffic Snarled in "Bikes versus Cars" IncidentCuriosities Urban Cycling Stories
Members of the Brooks England Enthusiasts Club (Southwark chapter) at B1866. Reports of a distinctly ugly nature involving cyclists from the Brooks England Enthusiasts' Club and a group of taxi drivers have reached us from South London over the weekend. Firstly, Brooks explicitly condemns any and all incidents of cyclist-driver hostility, and we wish to explain the circumstances surrounding this shocking event. The occurrence involved members of the Southwark chapter of the B.E.E.C., who gathered last Sunday afternoon at our B1866 flagship store in Seven Dials for their usual monthly pow-wow. Brooks Club meets are a famously jolly affair, allowing as they do kindred spirits to deliver monologues at each other on the perceived merits or quirks of our saddles, bags and sundry cycling accessories (contact your local Dealer of Excellence if you happen to be interested in membership). We are always happy to make the shop available to Club members for their get togethers. Anyway, it seems that after the last cucumber sandwich had been eaten and final bottle of Pimm's emptied, members elected to ride home en masse. And with London streets a little less busy on a Sunday than they might be during the week, the group thought it might be fun to ride ten abreast, rather than in the standard five rows of two. Taking up the whole road and looking ultra stylish with their Dalstons and Pickwicks and Eustons, they appear at some point to have passed a taxi rank, and replied in kind to a volley of passively aggressive remarks from the waiting cabbies, whose attention our bags and their owners had attracted. The exchange in turn caused several taxi men to "get the 'ump". Hacks tend to know their way around town, of course, and most London cabs are interlinked via radio; so it was that a quarter of an hour later as the Club swung on to Union Street for the final stretch, they found themselves greeted by the sinister sight of innumerable black taxis jamming up the thoroughfare three across, as far back as was visible. One eyewitness account even has it that the previously sunny evening sky had abruptly clouded over. Banter with some cabmen at a rank escalated into a rather hairy situation further down the road. As we can see from this photo we received of the incident, the cyclists clearly had a green light and right of way, yet the taxi drivers saw fit to continue blocking all lanes. Now of course Southwark could have turned right, or left, or simply hopped up on the pavement and ridden home. But faced with such questionable road etiquette, and reckoning the will of the drivers must surely soon crumble, they decided instead to stage an impromptu "group track stand" in protest. Sadly, minutes passed without any indication that the drivers might drive off, and tired legs gave way pair by pair until only one member, Simon Chambers, was still defiantly balancing. Gradually becoming aware of the intent behind this gesture, the taxi men energetically "revved" their engines, and took up a loud chorus of sarcastic cheering. What they didn't notice was that Simon had luckily managed to get his rear wheel jammed deep into a sizable crack in the tarmac's surface. This obviously provided him with all the stability he would need to stay upright indefinitely, and as the revving and shouting continued, fuel tanks began slowly to drain. Voices became hoarse. The Brooks Picadilly is another of our bags that has been causing trouble. Finally, at approximately 3a.m. on Monday the final engine duly cut out, and the entire fleet of cabs was towed away in silence by employees of the local authority's Roads Department. With Union Street once again fully accessible by bike, our members remounted and made their way home. In five rows of two. We congratulate Simon and the rest of the Southwark chapter on upholding the Club's honour. All in all, however, we feel the episode was unedifying. It could (and perhaps even should) have been avoided. To this end we have decided that as soon as we've sold out of the current production of cycle bags, we will begin investigating ways to make them less shockingly beautiful. Using tassles maybe? We'd be happy to hear any suggestions in our comments section below.