Wiling away my time on the train journey from the darkest depths of the South West back to town on the Sunday evening from a pleasant weekend, I stumbled across a piece of news which a section labelled Prufrock in the Sunday Times had uncovered. A piece of news which seemed like pure villainy and corruption of the blackest order at the heart of that future and surely illustrious event known as the London Olympics 2012.
According to Prufrock, which appears to be a Business column of the Sunday Times, Lord Berkeley (a Labour peer since 2nd May 2000 with self professed interests in transport and environment as demonstrated by his being Secretary for the All-party groups on Rail and Cycling) sent in a written question to Her Majesty’s Government asking why the supply of bicycles for use by both athletes and officials was not put up for tender for the 2012 Olympics. This question would appear to have been spawned from the fact BMW have been awarded the tender to supply automobiles for the officials and athletes, with free bicycles being thrown in as an additional freebie by the German manufacturing behemoth.
Lord Berkeley further questioned as to where the bicycles would be manufactured, receiving the rather vague and unsatisfactory answer that essentially amounts to “probably in the EU”. Whoop. Where Berkeley could not carry on, Prufrock boldly picked up the relay baton and ran with it, questioning why the great names of the UK’s cycling manufacturers old and new – Pashley and Brompton – were not given the chance to bid for the provision of bicycles for 2012’s Olympics.
It is particularly strange not to see these two giants of the British and global biking manufacturing world given the opportunity to bid. These two companies, with their iconic bicycles can be found around the globe – from Seattle to Sierra Leone in the case of Pashley and the Brompton has already assumed its position in the London and the orient’s conscience as one can see as it follows that bus in Beijing powered by Chris Hoy. Recent events around London’s Skyride featured the Pashley Poppy and Princess in prominent positions, being the steeds of choice for our future Olympic hope Victoria Pendleton and lady of Olympian proportions Kelly Brook, and Lord Mandelson the UK’s czar for Business, Innovation and Skills rides a Brompton, so these are not exactly companies and products that have been lurking in the shadows. They are true examples of British manufacturing success stories, with order books full to capacity and respective factories working flat out to produce outstanding and beautiful rides for the domestic and international markets.
The fact that the bicycles of BMW are just an addendum to the automobile tender, suggests that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic games (LOCOG) had not even considered the possibility of putting the manufacturer of bicycles for the games up for tender – in fact had not even considered the potential application of bicycles in the general planning of the whole shebang. A vast oversight for “The Great British Games promoting British business and environmental transport” it would seem. Yet again we see our great British Government, the supposed champions of British manufacturing neglecting their duty to promote where possible those areas that we excel in. It is hard to see our industrial allies like France, Germany or Spain missing such a trick, and our enemies must just laugh at the opportunities we present them on a day-to-day basis…
Anyway…as an owner of both a Brompton and a Pashley, I am somewhat bias – but I would love to see these two companies which have kept going strong throughout a recession, a recession which has hit some more recognisable and household manufacturing names with large job losses and cut backs, receive the recognition they deserve. It is just a pity that our Government does not feel the same.
[This blog was initially titled: “Till human voices wake us, and we drown” – but was deemed too poncy and dropped shortly after being published. Ed.]