Sunday, August 01, 2010

Tomorrow: My White Bicycle

This week's video is a tribute to Boris Johnson and his new bicycle hire scheme for London.

My White Bicycle was recorded by Tomorrow in 1967 and was inspired by a similar scheme in Amsterdam. This was a collaboration between the anarchist Dutch counterculture group the Provos and the politician and entrepreneur Luud Schimmelpennink.

What's That Song About explains:
The White Bicycle plan was simply this: Provos and Schimmelpennink went about collecting several hundred bicycles. Each bicycle was painted white. He and his colleagues then took the bikes into the city and just left them standing about. 
The concept was, if you were in need of transportation, then you could just hop on a bike, ride it to where you needed to go, and then just leave it there. Someone else who was in need of a ride could then use it, and in short you have this nice little courtesy ride system that didn't cost you a penny.
Similar schemes have been tried ever since. The London one, though it is more formally organised, clearly has its roots in Amsterdam's sixties counterculture.

Tomorrow were a significant band in those days, so cool that they were asked to write songs for the film Blow-Up (in the event they were not used).

Their guitarist Steve Howe later joined Yes while Keith West is, rather unfairly, best remembered for Excerpt from a Teenage Opera.


dreamingspire said...

But doesn't the London scheme simply mimic the Paris one? Maybe less likely to trigger the same export market in free bikes nicked from the scheme (its La Manche in the way).

Jonathan Calder said...

Quite possibly, but the Paris scheme will have its roots in the radical 60s.

As you suggest, the problem with such schemes has always been that the bikes get nicked.

dreamingspire said...

Do I detect a little nostalgia?

Jonathan Calder said...

I was only seven in 1967.