Cyclo-therapy: 'It was a bad idea to ride a Boris Bike home after a few pints. I looked up too late to avoid the parked car'
Saturday 27 November 2010
I've done it again. And I hesitate to admit it because it exposes me as a fool who deserves the reproachful e-mails that will no doubt drop into my inbox as a result.
I've cycled drunk again – and this time I paid the price. I wrote last January about pedalling under the influence and my Friday night dilemma. It's hard to refuse that fourth drink after a long week in the office. But, as a surgeon told me in an e-mail after I'd admitted to a self-imposed drink-ride limit of three pints, I was risking a messy end in the event I crashed.
I changed my ways for a bit, but now a new temptation has rolled into view in the form of the Boris Bike. One of the joys of London's cycle hire scheme is that, unlike the Tube, it never sleeps; the bikes are dangerously appealing when you're staggering through the streets at 3am.
I can't believe I'm the only person who has succumbed. I've even heard of Boris Bike pub crawls. And Boris Johnson himself said last year: "I have absolutely no prohibition about drinking a pint of two of beer and riding my bicycle".
It's an offence to be "under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle", but there's no legal limit. Even if you get caught, you'll probably wobble off with a £30 fine.
I felt like I did have proper control as I pedalled it to the southern limit of the hire scheme, from where I would hop on the 176 for the last leg home. But perhaps it was a bad idea to ride while plotting my route on Google Maps on my phone.
Of course it was a bad idea; I looked up too late to avoid the parked car. The crash threw me into the road. I was lucky, only suffering nasty grazes, but as the party season gains momentum, I wouldn't be surprised to see the mayor backpedalling with a warning against drink-riding. Perhaps posters could feature a picture of a scary lorry and the slogan, "It's not cool to be legless". Docking stations could be fitted with breathalysers. I was relieved to stagger away intact, but resolved to stick to public transport as I licked my wounds on the bus home.
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