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“They are supposed to keep bikes safe”: Councillor disappointed at “extremely light” cycle racks leading to bike thefts

Despite the council’s insistence that the cycle parking “meets design requirements”, Edinburgh councillor Susan Rae has joined cyclists to warn about the racks which can be “easily unscrewed” and pulled out

An Edinburgh councillor has expressed her disappointment at the "extremely light" bicycle racks that can be "easily unscrewed" and hoisted up in the air, joining other cyclists to warn that these newly installed racks will see an increase in bike thefts in the area and demanded better infrastructure to provide safe parking, however, the council had told road.cc that the parking space "meets design requirements".

The cycle racks were installed in the newly landscaped Leith Walk area of the city as part of the Trams to Newhaven project. However, earlier this month, a cyclist raised the alarm about bike thefts after seeing one of the racks become unusable, having been seemingly easily unscrewed from the ground.

Now, Susan Rae, Scottish Green Party councillor for Leith Walk, has told Edinburgh Live that she was able able to detach one of the metal stands from the pavement herself, and said that more needs to be done to improve bike security.

She said: "When I was walking past, the cycle rack had already been removed and it wasn't until I picked it up, that I realised just how light the cycle racks are.

"They are extremely lightweight, there is no heft to them whatsoever. It's just so disappointing that they are not robust enough as they are supposed to keep the public's bikes safe."

> Cyclist raises theft fears as bike rack easily unscrewed... but council says cycle parking "meets design requirements"

Speaking on recent bike thefts happening within the Scottish capital, Councillor Rae said: "The bike theft situation in Edinburgh has increased recently and it is at a very bad stage."

She said that the inadequate bike racks largely explain the thefts. She admitted that until something is done to improve bike security, thefts will continue to happen. She said: "The bike theft situation in Edinburgh has increased recently and it is at a very bad stage.

"We need to be careful when it comes to bike security - more people are increasingly using cycles and the demand for cycle racks is increasing too so we want them to be robust and to be built properly.

"Bikes are an investment for many people - they are not cheap and people get attached to them so it's a big thing and can be heart-breaking for many people if they lose their bike. We need to make sure that we install bike security that is fit for purpose.

"I only really know what the problem is like in Leith and it's infuriating to know that the issue is bad in this area and not across the rest of the city — it's not consistent and it's just so infuriating."

In June, Edward Tissiman, a cyclist from Edinburgh, had asked the council to confirm its bike racks were "immovable" as per his bike insurance provider's requirement that bikes are "securely locked to an immovable object". At the time, he speculated that the racks could be easily removed with an allen key, but never heard a response from City of Edinburgh Council.

And just over a month later, the fears became a reality. He shared photos on social media of the cycle-parking facility, the middle of the five racks lying on its side with the attachments used to fix it to the ground next to it.

"It appears that a bike has been stolen at Dalmeny Street/Leith Walk," he warned. "The thief has just unscrewed the rack. Please share far and wide so no one else suffers this. If only someone had warned the Trams to Newhaven project, eh?"

Tissiman also informed road.cc that as of now, the council is continuing to install new bike racks in the same fashion along the whole length of the new Trams to Newhaven line.

> “Those are definitely middle aisle bike stands”: Cyclists raise security fears after discovering that new cycle stands at Aldi entrance can be lifted out of the ground

More locals have started voicing their anger and fears about their bikes being stolen following these newly-installed racks.

One local bike rider said: "That is my main concern when cycling. Simple, secure parking for 60 minutes reduces stress. I ride a wreck hoping it will not be worth pinching."

Another Edinburgh resident commented: "Were the people who came up with them paid? Have they been sacked yet? Incompetents, but also competent supervision seems to have been sorely lacking."

When road.cc contacted the City of Edinburgh Council for a comment, the council was keen to point out it had not received any report of the criminal damage resulting in a bike being stolen, and stressed the racks "meet the project's design requirements and use standard fixtures".

Councillor Scott Arthur, the council's transport and environment convener, told us: "The cycle parking installed as part of Trams to Newhaven meets the project's design requirements and uses standard fixtures. We have not had any report of a bike being stolen, but we are aware of unacceptable criminal damage to a bike rack.

"We will continue to remain vigilant and monitor the use of the bike racks, and work with police where appropriate."

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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34 comments

Avatar
Eabhal347 | 6 months ago
4 likes

I just hope that cyclists across the UK can use Leith Walk as an example to councils and developers elsewhere. It could become a national centre for active travel infrastructure - things not to do. 

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eburtthebike | 6 months ago
6 likes

Yet again, it would appear that the people specifying, designing and constructing cycle infrastructure are completely ignorant of everything about cycling.  I've lost count of how many times this has happened, but it must be thousands, and frustratingly, lessons never seem to be learned.

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Cugel replied to eburtthebike | 6 months ago
0 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

Yet again, it would appear that the people specifying, designing and constructing cycle infrastructure are completely ignorant of everything about cycling.  I've lost count of how many times this has happened, but it must be thousands, and frustratingly, lessons never seem to be learned.

A large part of the problem is that its actually impossible to design good cycling infrastructure in most pf Blighty because of what's in the way of what the fans of cycle paths, cycle storage and other such stuff see as "good". For example, the reason that councils paint useless and often dangerous murder-strip white lines parallel to road gutters is that anything else would need the road to be narrowed to "unusable", the pavement replaced with a cycle lane or even the buildings down the sides of the road demolished.

Another problem is the cost, since government coffers can't or won't afford the money needed and, anyway, to build what many want in the way of cycling infrastructure would cost billions. It would also take a long, long time to build it. HS2 MkII. If you want cycle paths paralleling every road, it would take forever and involve knocking down vast numbers of extant things in the way.

And what problem would cycling infrastucture solve? It would make some cyclists feel more safe. It wouldn't stop motorised maniacs killing and maiming and polluting, themselves and others still on the roads; and living near them. 

The roads are an excellent cycling infrastucture .... apart from the presence of carloons and their inherently dangerous vehicles. The answer is to make those vehicles far less dangerous and to police road behaviours by all who use the roads (even cyclists!) much more rigorously. This would not just pay for itself but save billions in reduced damages of all sorts wrought by motorised transport of the vroomer ilk.

*********

As to safe places to lock up your bike ... it'll have to be something far more rigorous than a metal bar and a cyclist-supplied lock, no matter how good the lock and how well attached to the world the metal bar. There's no room or money either for secure bike garages, though, in Blighty. Perhaps we need instead a society in which stealing is not so much impossible as seriously immoral such that only the most degraded self-centred & amoral little skinbag Toryspiv will do it?

In this nice utopia, there'll be no such thing as a Toryspiv, of course.  1

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 6 months ago
4 likes
Cugel wrote:

A large part of the problem is that its actually impossible to design good cycling infrastructure in most pf Blighty because of what's in the way of what the fans of cycle paths, cycle storage and other such stuff see as "good". For example, the reason that councils paint useless and often dangerous murder-strip white lines parallel to road gutters is that anything else would need the road to be narrowed to "unusable", the pavement replaced with a cycle lane or even the buildings down the sides of the road demolished.

The streets are not too narrow, our minds are too narrow.  I can only agree that what you've put there is exactly what many (most?) in the UK think having cycle infra means.  Or rather - because we are so habituated to the vast space used for / by cars (over a third of space in some Scottish cities), we think that space has to be there, like that (or more of it).

It's almost Stockholm syndrome / learned helplessness.  We look at a space between buildings of say 13 metres - a metre of footway on one side, 1.5 metres on the other and the rest all filled with cars, moving or stationary, and think "there's just no space here for a cycle path".  But traffic is not the lifeblood of the city.

We're also accustomed to think of road design at a network level but for active travel we don't.  There doesn't seem to be the same grasp of "a grid".  Maybe we just assume those not in cars can always squeeze through somehow?  Maybe we don't think of people moving quickly / any distance outside of motor transport now?

(And although it does indeed provoke howls from people where the powers feel it's "necessary" they're quite happy to use CP, demolish buildings or rip up stuff for drivers or other modes).

It is really a question of priorities and political choices.  It is certainly not an easy change of direction - we can expect riots!  (You could say "but politicians just reflect the culture".  Some truth there but we haven't always had motor vehicles!  In fact, some politicians made choices which the public at large were not shouting for).

I can say this confidently because this process has happened (in micro even in some locations in the UK e.g. [cambridge]).  There are several examples of countries which have gone down the road of unrestrained driving, then started to slow that process down and tame the car at least [nl] [copenhagen].

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 6 months ago
3 likes

EDIT - missed a crucial "short" below...

I'll just link the rest as others have tackled these...

Cugel wrote:

Another problem is the cost...

But it's too expensive to provide for cycling!

Cugel wrote:

It would also take a long, long time to build it.

If we don't start nothing will ever change.  Almost nothing appears "overnight"...

Cugel wrote:

If you want cycle paths paralleling every road, it would take forever and involve knocking down vast numbers of extant things in the way.

But 100% segregation is impossible!

Cugel wrote:

And what problem would cycling infrastucture solve? It would make some cyclists feel more safe. It wouldn't stop motorised maniacs killing and maiming and polluting, themselves and others still on the roads; and living near them.

Why build cycle infra?

Since most short journeys now made by car are cyclable perhaps massively increasing cycling might remove the need for some of those journeys?  Might it not stop some of that maiming, polluting, crashing into people and buildings etc?

I think it's no coincidence that in the nation which cycles the most they have a completely different overall approach to transport which aims to make all modes - including driving - safer (e.g. by doing things like this).

Cugel wrote:

The roads are an excellent cycling infrastucture .... apart from the presence of carloons and their inherently dangerous vehicles.

Unfortunately the roads are no longer "excellent cycling infrastructure" even without the cars.  (Apart from anything else they're too big, taking up too much space in general).  They're certainly usable and a lot more convenient than a muddy bridle path.  With an unrealistic zero cars I'm sure more people would cycle - see "pandemic bike boom".

Cugel wrote:

The answer is to make those vehicles far less dangerous and to police road behaviours by all who use the roads (even cyclists!) much more rigorously.

"Higher standards of driving" are unlikely to make the roads feel safer.

Cugel wrote:

There's no room or money either for secure bike garages, though, in Blighty.

Again - it's a choice.  We build large car garages - because it's convenient for everyone.  If the authorities take interest in lots of people cycling I'm sure they'll soon be seen to want to build cycle garages to avoid towns being clogged with parked cars but still ensure town centres get the trade.  (They're also a good way to avoid the streets being filled with parked bikes.  That's a nice problem to have and we'll have to deal with that - when we get there).

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Cugel replied to chrisonabike | 6 months ago
0 likes

Ha ha - I thought my proposal that cars should be redesigned to prevent car looning and roads should be policed properly was rather utopian.  Your wish list for cycling infrastructure is much farther over unicorn hill!   1

In practice, it would cost government very little to change the laws concerning the design and capabilities of cars. Even extant cars could be fitted with speed limiters and tachographs to grass-up loon drivers.

In practice it would save billions of punds if roads were policed with the already existing laws. Fines and car confiscations, as well as the money saved by the NHS in not having to treat all the maimings, would pay for a lot of polis.

Excellent side effects would be not just safer cycling on the roads but less also pollution and far less damage to other motorists, pedestrians, horse riders, childrens lungs, etc..

Making the roads actually safer would also do a lot to encourage cycling, especially as less and less of the population is able to afford a car. After all, unlike this vast mythical cycling infrasturucture, as yet unbuild and more or less impossible to do so, roads currently go everywhere you might want to go.

In short, why propose hugely expensive and disruptive solutions such as cycling infrastructure when a much easier and far more beneficial solution is available at no cost or even a very big profit, both economically and socially?

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chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 6 months ago
2 likes
Cugel wrote:

Ha ha - I thought my proposal that cars should be redesigned to prevent car looning and roads should be policed properly was rather utopian.  Your wish list for cycling infrastructure is much farther over unicorn hill!   1

I'm sure you played for it!  Yes, my ideas are very hard to imagine in the UK, I agree!  Only a) they're already happening here (in a few places, slowly, imperfectly etc.) b) they actually all exist just over 100 miles away.  Or (for a more "realistic for the UK" version) about 600 miles away, for Copenhagen.  (They've got 2nd rate, cheap infra - and look how popular it is).

Unicorns ahoy! (note - in one of the least "cycling friendly" cities there, in the rain...)

I do agree with you in that cycling facilities should often come at the cost of some driving infra.  Not zero sum but we absolutely need a reduction in motoring convenience at the same time as we make cycling much much more convenient and also "feels safer". (See e.g. Milton Keynes where they made cycling possible but actually developed the town around the motor vehicle.)

Cugel wrote:

In practice, it would cost government very little to change the laws concerning the design and capabilities of cars. Even extant cars could be fitted with speed limiters and tachographs to grass-up loon drivers.

In practice it would save billions of punds if roads were policed with the already existing laws. Fines and car confiscations, as well as the money saved by the NHS in not having to treat all the maimings, would pay for a lot of polis.

Well you wouldn't even have to go so far as getting lots of new police, sorting out the courts etc.  Using your idea let's set the fine for speeding at a billion pounds, first offense.  Then make a list of the 100 or 1000 richest people in the UK, then set a bunch of our existing cops to follow them about.  They'll break the law at some point in the next few weeks.  Finance problems solved.

"Realistic" when proposing a change is difficult to evaluate.  I definitely think we could do more with policing.  I'd welcome more effort on the existing laws.

However - after prompting by another poster here I don't think this will be the massive money spinner you think.  Or rather - I think it would be about as "easy" (probably more) to persuade people of the need for change and funding for restrictions on driving / cycle infra as it would to get enough police / court time / car manufacturing changes / black boxes in all vehicles to make a big difference.

I also don't think this will greatly reduce road casualties either.  I hope it will make a difference (maybe it's 80% by 20 yobs?), but I think there is a large amount of "just human" in the crashes.

I certainly don't think better policing will change the fact that people don't cycle here.  UK roads are already "the safest in the world" (albeit through exclusion of or inconvenience to walkers, cyclists etc.).  Yet only a couple of percent cycle.  Conversely - where there is lots of decent infra you see mass cycling.  Puzzler?  People just don't like riding around lots of cars or fast cars.

But yeah - if we did police much better driving behaviour it's great for the couple of % of us that do cycle.

I'd love it if we could just replace cars with bikes!  Much more environmentally friendly / cheaper than putting down more tarmac / concrete.  But I'm not aware of any examples of this happening (any more than "just get everyone to be honest - hey presto, no more fraud!").  We do have examples which include the use of infra leading to mass cycling from a situation similar to where we are today in the UK.  Infra that actually pays for itself.

We could start with some of those concrete blocks (we already have), if the politicos were willing...

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Geoff Ingram replied to Cugel | 6 months ago
4 likes

Excellent ideas. I cannot understand why speed limiters which automatically adjust by gps are not mandatory. Or better policing. Except that it would be political suicide. Despite the obvious, undeniable advantages.

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Cugel replied to Geoff Ingram | 6 months ago
1 like
Geoff Ingram wrote:

Excellent ideas. I cannot understand why speed limiters which automatically adjust by gps are not mandatory. Or better policing. Except that it would be political suicide. Despite the obvious, undeniable advantages.

The notion that it would be political suicide to rein-in car looning and all the damage it does is often used as the reason for not applying such reins. But all it takes is a polician or 400 with the courage to try it and to then take the brickbats ..... or the bouquets. 

It's a big assumption that car loon voters are in the majority; or that even the less loony driver will have a paddy or sulk if his P&J is restricted from vrooming. I suspect that this asumption is a bit like Sir Staller's silly reaction concerning those LTNs, with his belief that a huge swing to Labour wasn't a success because the Toryspiv nevertheless managed to squeeze in by the skin of his black teeth after a few flesh robots puppeted by the newspaps voted for the spiv and agin' their own interests and welfare.

We Blighters seem far too ready to believe what we read in the newsliers, despite it now being common knowledge that they're just the propaganda organs of The New Aristocracy, spewing distractions and disaffection; and no more truthful that Pravda.

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ktache replied to Cugel | 6 months ago
3 likes

You reminded me that Reading was meant to get a secure storage Cycle Hub.

Nothing beyond the announcement...

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eburtthebike replied to Cugel | 6 months ago
0 likes

Been meaning to say this for some time, but, things to do you know.

Prolix doesn't make a case.

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Cugel replied to eburtthebike | 6 months ago
0 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

Been meaning to say this for some time, but, things to do you know.

Prolix doesn't make a case.

It don't undermine one either.  Whereas short little twitters refusing to engage don't even describe a case, perhaps because the twitterer don't have a-one?

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mattw | 6 months ago
3 likes

Are these the same project standards that gave us the Slalom Cycle Lane, the Transit Trapped Trams, the Empty Enforcement, and the Permanent Pavement Parking for three years?

Edinburgh Clowncil, indeed.

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neilmck | 6 months ago
11 likes

"meet the project's design requirements" Which project requirement did they meet? Be as cheap as possible?

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chrisonabike | 6 months ago
2 likes

I wonder if they went for bolt-down "furniture" because they expected to have to move stuff around?  For reasons of "scheduling" - like the lamp posts in the middle of the cycle path which looked like the work of schoolkid planners but may have been a necessary step to the finished article.

Or ... perhaps because the whole tram project has been a multi-billion-pound embarrassment to the very concepts of "design" and "plan".

The light construction may be partly since the tram folks seem to be loath to spend money / do anything helpful for cycling.  (On the evidence of a couple of public meetings, their plans and what's actually built).

As a knowledgeable person here pointed out these don't appear to meet the council's own design specifications.  (I'm sure there's enough flexibility for someone to say they do obvs.)  Although they do permit bolt-downs rather than dug-in racks (in some circumstances) there doesn't seem to be any reason for bolt-down here.

Their standard design also has an extra bar in the middle so you can't just separate the rack and bike.

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Morgoth985 replied to chrisonabike | 6 months ago
9 likes

Or more fundamentally the council doesn't really give a toss whether people's bikes get stolen, as long as they can tick some box saying "cycle parking installed".

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Patrick9-32 | 6 months ago
1 like

Does half the crew at Road.cc live on leith walk in Edinburgh or is the situation there really such an omnishambles that, despite no personal connection from Adwitiya and the team, like 20% of the stories that aren't product launches centre around how crappy the infrastructure on that one street is. 

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OnYerBike replied to Patrick9-32 | 6 months ago
14 likes
Patrick9-32 wrote:

...or is the situation there really such an omnishambles...

This one.

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Oldfatgit replied to Patrick9-32 | 6 months ago
9 likes

Given how South centric* this website is, its always nice to see an article from a different part of the country.
Proves to others that there is more out there than the London Superhighways or how bollocked up is Bristol.

It's a shame though that most of the stuff about us in the North revolves around how fucked up it is though*.

* recent coverage of the the World's excepting ... but probably still nowhere near the average for down South.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Oldfatgit | 6 months ago
0 likes
Oldfatgit wrote:

Given how South centric* this website is, its always nice to see an article from a different part of the country.

That's probably because most of its readers seem to be lefty Londoners who have a combined IQ lower than a slug and like a good froth over somewhere else's infra. 

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perce replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
10 likes

Still lacking. Try harder.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to perce | 6 months ago
0 likes
perce wrote:

Still lacking. Try harder.

Thanks, I was hoping you would comment as it helps prove a point of mine. 

Were you the guy who wanted "trolls" banned? Or does commenting after every post of mine not count as trolling? 

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perce replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
8 likes

You're not cross with me are you?

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to perce | 6 months ago
0 likes
perce wrote:

You're not cross with me are you?

No. I actually appreciate that you have more of a sense of humour and character than a lot on here (assuming that you are a person)

But if your post about banning "trolls" is serious then given you will be kicked off I won't lose much sleep about it. 

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perce replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
4 likes

Neither will I.

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brooksby replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
6 likes
The_Tory wrote:
perce wrote:

Still lacking. Try harder.

Thanks, I was hoping you would comment as it helps prove a point of mine. 

Were you the guy who wanted "trolls" banned? Or does commenting after every post of mine not count as trolling? 

Are you working from different definitions of "troll" and "trolling" to the rest of us? 

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RDaneel replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
6 likes
The_Tory wrote:

That's probably because most of it's readers seem to be lefty Londoners who have a combined IQ lower than a slug and like a good froth over somewhere else's infra. 

Most of its readers? How do you come to such a conclusion? Where for instance am I from and what is my IQ? Am I a lefty? Feel free to give more examples of the readers locales and intelligence. Are those who comment the sum total of the readers of this site or do they make up a small percentage of the readership? Does your comment reflect your high IQ thinking? How does perces posting prove your point,? Feel free to elaborate. Does my post prove your point, what exactly was your point? Do you actually think about what your posting before doing so? Anyway it's been fantastic to read your amazingly insightful post but I'm not sure I'll bother in the future. Maybe it's my low IQ but it just doesn't seem worth it.

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to RDaneel | 6 months ago
0 likes
RDaneel wrote:
The_Tory wrote:

That's probably because most of it's readers seem to be lefty Londoners who have a combined IQ lower than a slug and like a good froth over somewhere else's infra. 

Maybe it's my low IQ

Most likely it is, yes. 

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RDaneel replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
5 likes
The_Tory wrote:

Most likely it is, yes.

RDaneel wrote:

Anyway it's been fantastic to read your amazingly insightful post but I'm not sure I'll bother in the future. 

Thanks for confirming. 

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dubwise replied to Patrick9-32 | 6 months ago
2 likes
Patrick9-32 wrote:

Does half the crew at Road.cc live on leith walk in Edinburgh or is the situation there really such an omnishambles that, despite no personal connection from Adwitiya and the team, like 20% of the stories that aren't product launches centre around how crappy the infrastructure on that one street is. 

Yup, it's a pity that there is never any stories regarding London... oh wait.

Showing yourself up to be a right sassenach.

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