Is my bicycle safe in Canterbury?


It is the safest time in history to be alive. Our chances of dying early from war, crime and disease are at an all-time low, not that you’d know that from reading many of our national newspapers.

That would be a great Daily Mail headline, wouldn’t it? “Things are generally much better than they used to be”. It wouldn’t leave them much to discuss inside though.

There does seem to be a general yearning for a time when things were better, but nobody can quite tell me when that was. I mean, obviously the 90s were excellent, and no decent music has been made since 2000, but I have a feeling that has more to do with the age I was in 1999, rather than any objective factors.

I know the 80s were terrible, I remember them, and I’m pretty sure the 70s were worse. The 60s were supposed to have been fun, but I’m not entirely sure I’d swap the internet and global travel for brightly coloured manmade fibres and a transistor radio.

A lot of today’s nostalgia peddlers seem to think the 50s were a time of peace and plenty, but I don’t buy it. My understanding is it was a time of rationing, war, gangs, polio and cheerfulness through misery.

These people couldn’t possibly have experienced the 50s, Farage, for instance is 54. He was born in 1965. Why would he be nostalgic for a time when he wasn’t alive? The rest of us maybe, but not him.

Rees-Mogg is 49, for crying out loud, although I suspect he’s actually nostalgic for the 1850s. To put both of these men in context, Brad Pitt is 55. Maybe we should try to be more Brad than Nigel.

Anyway, this brings me, eventually, to my subject this week: petty crime. I’ve mentioned before that I find Canterbury to be much safer, friendlier and less threatening than London. Sure, there are some parts that might feel a bit sketchy after dark, and of course there are some dodgy characters, but as with nostalgia, just because things aren’t perfect now, it doesn’t mean I want to go back.

One spate of crime that concerns me in particular is the theft of bicycles, especially from Canterbury West Station. Recently a helpful citizen posted some advice to keep your bike safe on the infamous Canterbury Residents Facebook Group.

Essentially: get a great big chain, or a D-Lock and make sure the frame and wheels are chained to something solid and immoveable.  I’ve cycled in London for the best part of 20 years, and I’ve not had a bike stolen, it’s a good idea to invest in a decent lock.

Of course, it would be nice if you could leave your bike unlocked and it wouldn’t be stolen, like in the 50s, apparently. But bikes now are much more expensive and desirable. In the 50s, everyone had one, and they were all the same, reducing the market for a stolen one. I reckon a £500 bike secured with a £20 lock would have been a target in any era.

As bad as this spate of crime is, I’m not sure it reflects a breakdown of society in general and a worsening of Canterbury in particular. This does not mean I don’t want these toe rags caught, of course, but it would be a good idea to make it more difficult for them.

All of this won’t put me off cycling, no, the road surfaces and hostile environment for cyclists before you get to the station is more likely to do that…but that’s a whole different column.


  1. It’s quite difficult to be less safe, less friendly or more threatening than Sadiq Khan’s London. Perhaps somewhere in Somalia.


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