Other People’s Bikes

I had to go to London yesterday to attend a meeting. Walking down Fisherton Street on the way to the station in Salisbury I watched an old gentleman pull up to the kerb slightly ahead of me on a clearly much used Roadster. He had his right trouser leg tucked into his sock and was wearing a battered old fedora rather a helmet. He spun the cranks with his foot and rested the pedal against the kerb in the time honoured fashion, before crossing the street and entering the homebrew shop. I made sure he couldn’t see me then furtively took this shot of his lovely bike on my phone.

Nice Roadster on Fisgertons Street, Salisbury.

Nice Roadster on Fisherton Street, Salisbury.

Later on that day, walking through London I came across a nice fixie with Japanese sweet wrappers in place of spokecards. The bike was chained to some railings on Charing Cross Road, just after the intersection with Shaftesbury Avenue. I slipped off a couple of pictures, but again very furtively (and the focus was appalling).

Sweetie wrappers for spokecards, Charing Cross Road

Sweetie wrappers for spokecards, Charing Cross Road

I don’t know why I feel worried about photographing other people’s bikes. Maybe the bicycle is such a personal thing that in some level it might be conceived as an invasion of privacy. The relationship between cyclist and bicycle is a curious and intimate one, the bike has no power of its own and can only go as fast as its rider can push it. Each bicycle has its own interface with the rider, on my road bike I feel the slightest movement from me, a gentle leaning to the right, and the bike follows. On my Mountain Bike, it’s like steering a shire horse, on the slopes I must lean and pull to point the wheels where I want to go, there is an element of the bike choosing the line for me.

I have many, many of these voyeuristic pics of other people’s bikes, and each bike seems to have its own narrative built into it, whether that is through tyre choice, the saddle, the bags attached, the choice of grips, decals… Perhaps I should post a few, what do you think?

Published in: on March 13, 2009 at 5:45 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,