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Dead bikes cluttering up bike stands

Due to popular demand and realising that this post was completely out of date, I am re-writing it. I’m told that getting dead bikes removed is “capillary activism” and since capillary motion defines as the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces even in opposition to external forces, like gravity, this sounds about right.

The idea is to get vandalised, half stolen, abandoned bikes removed from bike stands, thus releasing the stand for better use, cleaning up the street-scene and making them available for re-cycling to a good cause. When reporting them, I usually mention that what remains is dangerous both a) because it is and b) because it makes the council legally responsible for anyone hurting themselves on it and therefore c) more likely to remove it promptly.

This won’t happen unless someone reports the bikes to Southwark’s call centre ( and asks for them to be removed.  You can add a maximum of two pictures but that’s probably enough. This seems to work but if it doesn’t, then file a complaint. You can use the same link to pay them compliments as well and, to be fair,  I have. Complaining seems to work. Compliments are greeted with surprise and delight. Do try those as well.

As an aide memoire, reporting the bikes on FixMyStreet (under street cleaning) might be a good idea because, after a month,  they ask you whether the bike has gone. This reminds you that you might need to prod the council again.

Doing this is useful and public spirited (obviously) but also quite interesting. A street with loads of semi-derelict bikes looks as though bike theft is common. In fact, once cleaned up, the bike stands take quite a long time to re-fill with derelict bikes. So bike theft isn’t as ubiquitous as one might think.

I worried, when I started, that I might mislead new cyclists into under-estimating the dangers of theft and spending less on locks. But I decided that this would probably counterbalance those deciding not to get a bike because it would inevitably get stolen.

Further thoughts are: register your bike. Southwark Council also has this reporting form if the above doesn’t work. Some re-cycled bikes are passed onto The Bike Project which is about as good a return on your good deed as I can imagine, and if you have a bike you’d like to donate, consider Community Cycle Works where it will also find a second life with someone who needs it.

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