Sunday 15 March 2009


I'm old. I'm grumpy. I used to be a punk (probably still am).

I still have a lot to do with live music in this city. So I go to many gigs - mostly in Stokes Croft. One of the better parts of this fair city. I've never had an issue here, and nothing has ever happened to my bike in that part of town. It feels like a really friendly place late at night (but I am a big bloke - so maybe others would disagree).

Unfortunately, some gigs happen in the 'Strip', which I'll define as Corn Street to Blackboy Hill - it takes in The Centre, Park Street and Whiteladies Road too.

These gigs are generally fantastic - Mr Wolf's, Mother's Ruin, Start The Bus, The Folk House, St George's, The Cooler - all in or close to the 'Strip'. These venues exist outside the normal constituency of 'The Strip' (by which I mean tacky clubs, 2 for 1 drinks, etc., etc.).

They are rather special - and are mostly ignored by the binge drinking gangs of [insert whatever type of person you dislike wandering around at 01:30 in the morning here].

The deal for me, though, is that if I want to go to one of these gigs I have to interface with these people sooner or later. Usually later. I usually do it by cycling up Park Street, quite late and quite quickly. Simple.


I did it a couple of weeks ago - taxi to The Cooler, then walked home at about 23:30. Awful. No wonder some people are scared to go out at night!

I did it tonight. Cycled to the centre, into Start The Bus, great gig, out at 01:00 to find my bike (watched over by CCTV and bouncers) had been vandalised and the front wheel removed. Probably in the docks by now. So dragged the carcass of my bike home. Past the other vandalised bikes at every other 'Cycling City' Sheffield stand provided by our Council.

58 (yes 58) times the same stupid comment was made, by an oaf, or gang of oafs, about a missing front wheel as I carried it up Park Street! Morons.

Lucky for me I'm slightly older than I used to be. Violence did not feature tonight. But I am livid.

I wonder if city centre CCTV actually works?


Chris Hutt said...

Quercus, thanks for that. You said something that needed to be said.

It seems that at week-ends the city centre, or the strip, is given over to hordes of drunken people who make the place unpleasant and hostile for anyone else who dares to go about their business at this time.

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to anti-social behaviour, both personally and via theft of and damge to parked bicycles. Therefore cycling can only thrive in a`civilised city where anti-social behaviour is effectively contained. Making the city civilised should be part-and-parcel of promoting walking and cycling, and vice versa.

How? One thing that's abundantly clear is that the anti-social behaviour is alcohol fuelled. So it seems obvious to look at ways to discourage excessive alcohol consumption.

Perhaps if there were some way of making the pubs, bars and clubs that sell the alcohol more directly responsible for the subsequent behaviour of their patrons?

Anonymous said...

Bummer. Please tell me that the front wheel wasn't on a QR fixing.

You could have used the D-lock & cable method to tie it down to the stand. The problem with this is that in an kind of area you had to leave your bike, you'd have probably come back to find both wheels bent in half.

What you need to do now is report it to the police (so you get a crime number), and then request that the investigate the theft by reviewing the CCTV.

Quercus said...

Hi Chris

I agree. Last night did not feel like a walk in Barcelona!

There's a problem, but I think it goes deeper than alcohol. As a society we no longer have respect for others - and I think this blog perfectly highlights the attitudes of many people to their fellow citizens.

I don't want to dwell on it too much, but I do think personal car ownership is a major cause of anti-social behaviour. Having a suit of armour gives a sense of hubris. Which makes interaction with the rest of society difficult at best.

Anonymous said...

Fri/sat nights are when cars parked anywhere between "the strip" and places where their clientele live are in trouble. You make sure your wing mirrors are pre-folded in; you encourage your neighbours to put in their bins, to keep them off your car. It's not just the bikes.

Thomas Guest said...

Horrible, and all too common. What's truly horrible is that this kind of thing is what stops me from using my bike to go out in the evening. I'm lucky enough to live close enough to the centre to walk to some places -- but Gail and I end up (e.g.) driving to the cinema when we'd rather cycle. Did you report the incident? What was the police response?

Chris Hutt said...

Quercus, I agree entirely with your further comments. The car means that people no longer have a vested interest in the quality of the public realm. They become insulated from it. All they care about is that the public realm should be reordered to facilitate their rapid progress.

Quercus said...

Hi Chris

I think there's a lot to debate here. Maybe I'll do a few slightly provocative posts to open it up.

BTW everybody - new wheel now fitted (NO QR) £48.50. Reported on-line to the Police. Not because I'm expecting to get it back, but I do want it logged.