Southampton is a pretty good place to live. I came here to study at the better of the two universities three years ago and enjoyed living here so much, I’ve stuck around. There’s always something going on, some beautiful parks and a number of excellent music venues. People tell me the clubbing and shopping isn’t bad either, but I wouldn’t know!
But there’s one thing that Southampton has a big problem with. It may sound like I’m being petty or focusing on a tiny issue, but it’s one that has effected me three times in three years.
In my first year of university I was stupid enough to leave my bike outside Southampton Central station with no lock. I biked to the station just in time to catch a train to Brighton to meet my then girlfriend, now fiancee. As I parked the bike I realised my lock had broken. So I was faced with a choice – either risk leaving it without a lock or miss my train to buy a lock and not see Stacey. I think I made the right decision.
Nevertheless, I vowed never to leave my bike without a lock again…and I haven’t!
Bike number two was locked outside Southampton Central, next to at least 30 others. When I returned it was gone, and so was the lock.
I reported it to the police (as I had done before) and went through a very lengthy process which ended with the news they had (finally) found the CCTV footage. Excellent! Bad news followed immediately, because it was dark they couldn’t make out the thief’s face. The police officer on the other end of the phone helpfully informed me that the person who stole my bike was a tall male in a white t-shirt, so if you ever find anyone matching that description please do let me know, and I’ll be sure to beat him up.
I can’t remember exactly when all this happened, but it couldn’t have been much longer than 6 months ago.
I felt like a little kid again when Christmas rolled around again. My father had very generously bought me a bike, done it up and gave it to me Christmas morning. A bike for Christmas! I might as well have been seven years old again. It felt so good to have some transport again, and get exercising. All was well. A lot of love had gone into the bike renovation, it really was as good as new. It didn’t look 2nd hand at all. All the gears worked (an unusual feature for most of my previous bikes), it had a good set of lights and that all important lock.
Last night, that bike was stolen.
I had parked it maybe half a mile from where my other bikes had been nicked. It was just outside a popular pub on a well lit, well travelled road. I parked it at 7pm and went into the pub with some good friends, and we chatted away for a couple of hours.
I came out again and my bike, which had been locked to a tree next to a full bike rack was gone. Not even the lock was left.
As a real kick in the teeth, I could see my bike from where I was sitting in the pub. But I rarely glanced in that direction, and when I did a bin just obstructed my view. I told myself to stop worrying about keeping an eye on it. “it’s there, stop panicking” I told myself.
That kick in the teeth clearly wasn’t enough. There’s another one, and this time it came from the police themselves. The street my bike was parked on has signs all down it. On every lampost there’s a really helpful sign that explains people cycling on the pavement will receive a hefty fine. Lovely.
Might I suggest the police focus their attention on getting any of my three bikes back. I really don’t mind which one! I just need some transport again. I can’t afford a car and walking around such a big city eats into my already limited time.
It’s been 24 hours, I should probably just get over it. But I haven’t. So I thought I’d write a meaningless blog instead. Hope you enjoyed it bike thieves. If I ever catch you…