Bike plans sound familiar

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Your lead story on the front story of the Herald (March 28) about the possibility of “Boris Bikes” being introduced to the streets of Worthing brings to mind a similar scheme operated by Worthing Young Liberals in the 1960s.

Following a visit to Amsterdam where they witnessed hundreds of white cycles being ridden in the city they discovered that it was a scheme introduced by the city’s Young Anarchists who had acquired the machines, painted them a distinctive white, and distributed them around the city for public use free of charge. The idea was that you picked up a white bike rode it to your destination and left it in a prominent position for the next person who needed an inexpensive form of transport.

Worthing YLs “Orange Bikes Get You Home” scheme was a more modest effort. Some two dozen cycles were donated after an appeal – these were carefully overhauled, painted orange and distributed around the town.

People said that the bikes would end up off the end of the pier within a week. Actually, their introduction coincided with an influx of the first wave of students from Europe signing up to the English language schools that had opened in the town and who needed an inexpensive form of transport – many of these cycles were still being ridden for several months after they had been put out.

There was also a serious point to the exercise and that was to draw attention to the burgeoning volumn of traffic in urban areas during the 1960s – a problem which 50 years on is still with us.

Brian McLuskie

Adelaide Close