I read with interest that in the Netherlands and Germany, pioneering companies are setting up mobile repair services for bicycle commuters. I like this idea. Over the past year, it has felt as though London is becoming more of a cycling city. Not cycle-friendly – the cycling infrastructure is still very poor, as documented by every cyclist commenting on every message board on the internet, and drivers still seem to have an attitude to cyclists that swings between vehement hatred and total obliviousness – but a city that cycles more. And the facts bear this out: According to the Mayor’s website, cycle journeys on London’s roads are now up by 107 per cent since Transport for London (TfL) was created in 2000, and an estimated 545,000 cycle journeys are made in the capital every day. Anyway, with more people cycling comes, inevitably, more breakdowns and on-the-move repairs.
I’ve been cycling for a while, and carry a multi-tool, a spare tube, pump and levers wherever I go – they’re all lightweight pieces of kit and I hardly notice them in my courier bag. And over the years – mainly through emergency trail repairs when mountain biking – I’ve learned to fix most fixable things. Broken chains, bent gear hangers, malfunctioning derailleurs have all been encountered and dealt with. But there are sometimes breakdowns you just can’t fix. More to the point, with lots of new cyclists on the road, most without any basic cycle repair or maintenence training, I think there could be a real demand for this kind of service.
The services in the Netherlands, Fix Fiets and Bike Mobiel, and Fahrradambulanz in Germany seem to charge on a ‘call out’ basis. I wonder whether there might be an opportunity in setting up a bicycle equivalent of the AA or RAC – an insurance-based approach where you pay an annual or monthly sum to have access to the service whether you use it or not. Granted, it might need to be geographically limited – maybe only within certain London ‘zones’, say 1 and 2 to begin with. But I think the idea could work.
I have to thank my friend Aaron (@Granoldo) for flagging this up for me via a link on Twitter.