YouTube bike theft trailers: Send in the Seals

Alex Nott, a producer for ITV London, has released three video trailers for ‘Gone in 60 seconds’, a half hour documentary on bike theft in London. I did a news story on this programme on, July 10th.

The programme will air on ITV1 at 7.30pm on 24th July and will also be available on Sky, channel 993. Here are the three trailers for the programme:

‘We track the criminals that are stealing your bikes’

‘How easy is it to steal a bike in central London?’

‘How safe are the locks on your bike?’

The footage of the ‘bike thief’ sawing through the D-lock in broad daylight, but not being challenged, is echoed in this famous video from the Neistat Brothers of New York City. A version from ‘wakingavalon’ has had 405,807 views on YouTube.

Cycle theft is a serious disincentive to cycling. According to a French study, only 25 per cent of cyclists re-buy a new bike after a theft, and of these 10 per cent buy a cheaper bike than they had before (20 per cent cheaper on average). A further 23 per cent won’t return to cycling at all.

The study reports that 20 per cent of stolen bikes were not protected with any form of locks. 90 per cent of those which were locked were secured with an easily cut lock.



2001-02: 14,674
2002-03: 16,239
2003-04: 19,616
2004-05: 19,636
2005-06: 21,574

England and Wales

2001-02: 102,713
2002-03: 97,755
2003-04: 105,467
2004-05: 106,064
2005-06: 113,206

These are Home Office figures. There’s likely to be some under-reporting going on but Halifax insurance company claims there are 440,000 thefts a year.

As this was reported on – unchallenged – many folks now consider this the true figure, even though it is largely unsubstantiated.

Halifax also issues car theft and cellphone theft ‘market reports’. Their press releases always say something like ‘car/bike/mobile stolen every 71 seconds’.

Yes, bike theft is a big problem and professional thieves will be able to get through almost any form of lock, given time and an apathetic public, but, thankfully, thieves equipped with 42-inch bolt cutters are rare.

Those that are caught should have their hands cut off, believes the bicycling MP, and would-be London mayor, Boris Johnson.

In March, he was received warmly at a meeting of Islington Cyclists’ Action Group when he said:

“I think these people deserve punishment and I’m calling for Sharia law for bicycle thieves.

“If I had my way I would plant decoys in a whole lot of bicycles across the borough and in the evening I would send Navy Seals in through the thieves’ windows and show them what it’s all about.”

Tour de France: dog v wheel

Is this the weirdest moment of the ’07 Tour so far?

A weighty Golden Labrador waddles in front of T-Mobile’s Marcus Burghardt on stage nine. Upon impact the rider’s wheel folds, and the dog walks away, nonplussed.

Get a 16-second clip on your iPod or computer here as an mp4 or here on iTunes.

Frank the BMXing Bunny to cream Arctic Monkeys?

Natasha Khan – aka Bat for Lashes – has today been nominated for the Nationwide Mercury Prize, one of the top music awards in the UK. Likened to Joanna Newsom (but without the harp) and Bjork (but without the Icelandic twang), singer-songwriter Khan has a rather wonderful BMX-themed music video for her single ‘What’s a girl to do?’

BMXers in animal masks appear from behind Khan as she rides along. The video was shot in Wokingham. The bunny character looks a bit like Frank the Bunny from freaky US movie Donnie Darko.

Boy, were those BMXers clever to clap in time to the music. In fact, the timings were altered in post-production. And the way the animal BMXers ‘disappear’ behind Khan is also a bit of digital trickery. Mind you, great vid, SFX or no SFX.

Shopping bike versus the peloton

Even if you’re not partial to the silly Rowan Atkinson character, this particular, bike-themed snippet from the movie Mr. Bean’s Holiday is a classic:

It would have been slightly more realistic if the riders in the peleton were shown wearing local French club strips rather than plain jerseys. It might also have been funnier if there were some incredulous reactions from the riders being overtaken by Mr. Bean on his shopping bike. But it’s still a great clip, and a warm, funny and touching movie. Music’s good too.

Out for a cushy spin: Cyclists Special, 1955

In May 2007, a report from the European Cyclists Federation said “The United Kingdom offers the best conditions for bicycle carriage on long-distance trains.”

Bicycle Carriage on Long Distance Trains in the European Union may paint a picture we Brits don’t recognise but for an even rosier view of bicycle carriage on trains check out this classic movie short from May 1955. It’s available as a hi-res video available for playing and storing on iPods etc here.
Or click on the picture below to make it play in lo-res via YouTube.

CTC members no longer go on group rides via ‘cyclists’ special’ trains. Shame.

Americans could be lean and green once again

In the latest members’ magazine from the Sierra Club, America’s massive hiker-and-national-parks organisation, there’s an excellent piece from author Mike Davis on how US citizens became super eco-conscious to help the war effort in WWII.

Given some of the same determination, America’s impact on the world’s resources could be much reduced, argues Davis.

Of course, bicycles played an important conservation role in WWII but it wasn’t all hair-shirts and self-flagulation, Americans found they liked riding everywhere: they were fitter, happier, healthier.

…[The] national obsession of the 1890s, the bicycle, made a huge comeback, partly inspired by the highly publicized example of wartime Britain, where bikes transported more than a quarter of the population to work. Less than two months after Pearl Harbor, a new secret weapon, the “victory bike” — made of nonessential metals, with tires from reclaimed rubber — was revealed on front pages and in newsreels.

Hundreds of thousands of war workers, meanwhile, confiscated their kids’ bikes for their commute to the plant or office, and scores of cities and towns sponsored bike parades and “bike days” to advertise the patriotic advantages of Schwinn over Chevrolet. With recreational driving curtailed by rationing, families toured and vacationed by bike.

In June 1942, park officials reported that “never has bicycling been so popular in Yosemite Valley as it is this season.” Public health officials praised the dual contributions of victory gardening and bike riding to enhanced civilian vigor and well-being, even predicting that it might reduce the already ominously increasing cancer rate.

But some Americans seem to think it’s their God-given right to consume as much petrol and as many quarter-pounders as possible. Media darling Trilby Lundberg seems to be a good case in point. She’s a ‘gas prices’ analyst and doesn’t look as though she would wobble away if somebody said “fried Mars bars, free samples.”

Fritz over at has the photographic evidence for this.

Ms Lundberg told CNN:

I’m hoping that consumers will see through the rhetoric about consuming less, demanding less, as faulty. It is not a given that consuming less will be good for our economy or for our personal freedom. It is not even established for our environment that we [should] deprive ourselves of gasoline for our personal mobility as well our commerce. And to suppose that it is good to do that, and pretend that we have consensus and put our heads together to deprive ourselves of this great product that makes the country go around, commercially and individually, I think is flawed.

TdF’s Christian Prudhomme: top bloke

Just before the yellow jersey ceremony after the London prologue, my kids caught up with the Tour director and asked him for his autograph.

He could have refused. He could have called security. He could have signed, but done it on auto pilot. Instead, he took the time to get down to the kids’ level, asked them their names, personalised the signatures, and chatted about his own young daughter. I was impressed.

He may have made a too hasty call on the damnation of Floyd Landis before the hearing results are known, but nevertheless what a lovely, thoughtful man.

Former event organiser Donna Tocci, PRO for Kryptonite, writes:

“Event day is a blur of activity. If you have time to breathe, you are lucky. Kudos to Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, on taking time out to not only breathe, but actually sign autographs for kids and spend a few minutes with them. That’s how you make Tour fans for life!

“It’s a bright spot in the day to know that there are people out there who take the time to make a kid’s day. Bravo Mr. P!”

Monty Python’s ‘The Cycling Tour’

Got half an hour to spare? Watch these three installments of a classic, bicycle-themed episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

‘The Cycling Tour’ was first aired in December 1972. It’s set in North Cornwall, France and the Soviet Union, but was shot in Jersey.

Michael Palin plays Mr Pither, a hapless cycle tourist. It was the first Monty Python episode to feature not a quick skit but a full-length story. This is one of the reasons it’s not so well known.