CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Stolen: ‘London’s longest bike’

Father wanted his two children to do some pedalling

17 October, 2019 — By Anna Cooban

The missing Onderwater

THE owner of the “longest bike in London” has appealed for help after it was stolen from outside his flat in Somers Town.

Ben Watson, 63, noticed his bright red tandem bike – a Dutch Onderwater – was missing after returning from visiting his daughter in hospital earlier this month.

He has put up posters around the area in the hope somebody knows where the distinctive bike has ended up.

“I’ve had cargo bikes for the past 12 years and parked them right outside my flat,” said Mr Watson. “So that if any kid was sawing through the chain, I’d be able to hear it”.

A long-time bike enthusiast, Mr Watson rides his two children, Iris, 14, and Mordecai, 11, to their school in Soho.

Ben Watson with daughter Iris

He previously featured in the national news when he was stopped by police in Euston in 2013 for cycling his children in a Bakfiets “wheelbarrow” bike, another Dutch brand.

“I would make my kids a poncho, cut two holes in it to put their heads through, and lay it over the Bakfiets while riding them to school,” said Mr Watson. “As my children got older, and I got thinner and they got fatter, I needed to find another bike that would allow them to pedal. The same day I got stopped by the police, I had the Onderwater delivered. I rode them to school in the Bakfiets and collected them in the Onderwater.”

Mr Watson has a driving licence but rarely uses it, preferring cycling as a way to discover London’s hidden treasures.

He said: “The car is the armed prosthesis of the nuclear bourgeois family. People go from their gated communities to their locked cars and rarely engage in their local community.”

Last month, protesters staged a “die-in” in Trafalgar Square to highlight the dangers for cyclists on the capital’s roads. Mr Watson, however, remains undeterred.

“I think like a car,” he added. “You have to occupy the road. When yo’re timid, that’s when it’s dangerous”.

Anyone with information on the stolen Onderwater is asked to contact police on 101, citing crime number 2331718/19.

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