Nothing brings more joy than a new bike for Christmas. The shiny new bell twinkles with the promise of much tinkling to come, the paintwork is yet to be scratched to pieces by overgrown brambles and it has that ‘new bike smell’. But each year, thousands of bikes are cruelly cast aside by their owners, mistreated by over excited children or abandoned simply because they were ‘the wrong colour’.
A new report from the National Bike Welfare Society shows that in 2011 alone, at least 127 bikes were reported as ‘neglected’, ‘abused’ or ‘discarded’. Spokeswoman Marsha Derailleur told us “It breaks my heart to hear tales of these poor bikes. We’ve set up a lost bike facility, but our staff can’t keep up with the needs of these bikes, constantly polishing their bells and pumping up tyres to make them feel loved.”
It’s a sad story that’s recognised even as far away as Wales. Dave Scraps, manager of Swansea’s rubbish dump, said “You wouldn’t believe the amount of bikes that we get here in January. Some of them are still in wrapping paper. Which is really bad, as they must be really fiddly to wrap”.
But what makes people turn so viciously against these two-wheeled innocents? Even now, in November, we saw a local man dumping a road bike he’d bought his son for Christmas. “My son’s a recovering heroin addict” he explained. “Cycling’s full of drugs and I don’t want him getting mixed up in that world again.”
So think carefully. That £500 stocking filler might seem like a good idea, but you may have to live with the guilt that you’ve added to the growing problem of bike cruelty.