The folding bikes that I sourced from the Edinburgh Bicycle Coop for our landlord, Exchange Quay Management, turned up today. From the mass of long narrow boxes in Paula’s office it was clear that they did not arrive pre-folded, which was a shame and a source of more than a little frustration.
Paula, our site’s Facilities Manager, put out an SOS call to your neighbourhood CSR Champion but couldn’t get through due to the CSR batphone suddenly buzzing late in the afternoon with stuff about Carbon Neutral Double Decker Battle Buses (they exist according to Marketing), Football tournaments to support Forces For Good (can we muster a team to head up to the Toon?) and Easter Egg collections for needy kids (since when exactly have kids ‘needed’ chocolate?). On receiving a desperate sounding e-mail I headed over to Paula’s office to find 4 people fighting with a folding bike, trying to get it into an unfeasibly small sheath.
It was a similar designed folder to mine and from experience I know the position of the pedals to be critical when ‘bagging up’ but there were a couple of extra complications that the instructions omitted. Being a proper bloke I refused to read them directly, but whilst some Alpha-male from security had his hands on the equipment (I could tell from his manner he had been in that situation for more than 20 minutes and I should not even try to step in and claim the glory) I gave advice and gently encouraged him (think he was called Barry) whilst a much much lesser male was actually reading bits of the instructions. We both pretended to ignore him.
Paula, meanwhile, was on the phone to EBC demanding someone talk her through the folding procedure and another lady, who was the first to come to Paula’s assistance, was now reduced to making gentle cooing noises to stop us all going ape. The extra things to consider were that as well as folding the lengthy handle bar stem there was an extra collar to further shorten the stem and thus stop the brake levers fouling the pedal and the seat had to be lowered to its absolute base and twisted to a certain angle. Barry sorted it and we were all slightly happier, but still resolved to visiting the EBC outlet in Rusholme for a ‘quick’ demo on Monday.
And I thought mine was a faff! I can collapse and bag my Raleigh folder in less than 90 seconds which is important when you’re waiting for a bus on Great Clowes Street. With practice I’m sure we can approach this level of effectiveness and when our humours have returned I might suggest this as a little lunchtime competition to promote the bikes’ use.
Paula and I seem to be similiar in our outlooks. We’re both ‘neo-greens’ who are being convinced by a lot of the good sense surrounding this planet saving business and especially when we can see hard economic benefits to doing what we already acknowledge is the ‘right’ thing to do really. Nobody likes being told to do anything, but when you can see benefits to yourself here and now, rather than just getting the glow the comes with knowing your grandchildren might be able to inhabit a world that approximates your own, you start to pay a bit more attention. Paula and I are full of ideas (granted not all of them sensible) and are a pair of dreamers who very quickly become utterly despondent when nobody else seems to see it our way.
Today she was down about the whole folding bike situation and not just because it had taken 5 of us at least 30 minutes in the comfort of her office to fit one bike into its carrying bag, but she’d been given a bollocking from head office for blowing over £1k on collapsible two wheeled vehicles. Alarm bells were ringing because of the fear of the litigious tenants bring EQM to its knees with claims for the loss of limbs and incidents with local Bentleys and Ferraris.
We can sort something out Paula, I know people.
I’d already pecked the head of Scott who runs a bike hire scheme to the locals of Chapel street with far from new bikes, some of which have been made roadworthy after being saved from ‘impending landfill death’ . Without a quick reply, I’d also turned to the experience of the same GMCC mail group who suggested EBC as well as other potential sources of cheap folding bikes. I’m hoping that a simple but well worded disclaimer can protect the EQ folding bike scheme from any liability in the very very unlikely event that anyone get’s hit by an idiot taxi driver (just for example) or goes completely Joe Pesci on some goon’s motor whilst using their landlord’s equipment. There will be the inevitable nonsense around the helmet issue. My proposal is to have a few of them that accompany the bikes thus ‘suggesting’ that they might be worn rather than mentioning them specifically in the disclaimer. We are all adults and can make our own judgements based on our individual abilities and both our personal experience and that of others we have heard of.