Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Olympic madness: Dutch bikes take over East London

These are just a few of the Dutch rental bikes that appeared outside Blackhorse Road tube in East London shortly before the Olympics started, greatly outnumbering the commuter bikes locked up outside the station. Often there are a hundred or more identical blue and yellow bicycles, neatly stacked close together.

Why? The Olympic campground is a bit more than a mile down the road, occupying playing fields on Walthamstow Marshes for the duration. Seen from the air, a high proportion of the tents are orange, which can mean only one thing: the Dutch contingent is camping there en masse. The bikes belong to OV-fiets, the rental company who have bases at most railway stations in the Netherlands. Unlike our own Boris bikes, you need membership to rent these, so they are only really available to nationals. Most of the bikes are identical but I saw a few decorated with flowers. Marigolds, naturally. You can even see passengers riding sidesaddle on the luggage rack - common in Amsterdam, but perhaps not so sensible in London.

The Borough of Waltham Forest has risen admirably to the occasion by posting signs all round the junction, introducing a new rule for the occasion: DO NOT CHAIN BICYCLES TO THE RAILINGS.

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