The Struggles of Life with a Bike in York: One Student’s Tyreless Battle

The beautiful city of York: nice restaurants, tourist attractions, Yorkshire puddings - and potholes. 

Living slightly outside of the central areas of York, biking to and from university and the centre has become a staple this year. Gone are the days when one can roll out of bed and onto Zoom, actual commuting is now required in this post-online world of study.

Without a bike, a 30 minute walk faced me every morning; with a bike in my life, however, this became 10 (14 if it was windy and I really didn’t want to go to the lecture). And so began my love for my bike. 

It’s one of those sit-up-and-relax leisurely bikes minus a cute pastel colour and basket, but then we can’t have everything in life! Armed with my handy bike locks and helmet (safety first), I was basically guaranteed travel around York in about 15 minutes – beautiful. 

That was until the dreaded potholes, broken glass and tree shrapnel attacked my poor tyres with such a ferocity that in two weeks, I got three punctures. 

The first was on the way home from work – after a couple of minutes of biking, it started to get a bit more difficult, a few more roads down and my tyre started to bulge at the bottom with lack of air. In denial, I only stopped when the rubber started squeaking in resistance. 

Thankfully, there are multiple handy bike shops located around York and even a bike doctor on campus, who were able to fix my bike pretty quick. Only a week later I found myself returning, my tyre once again as flat as a pancake.

Ever the optimist, despite multiple punctures the term before as well, I joked about my clearly bad biking and inability to avoid glass, paid for the fix and went on my way. This time, I told myself, surely it would be ok… right?! 

And so I thought until it came to my 9am on a Thursday – of course the worst possible time to get a puncture. Faffing around in the morning and watching a cheeky episode of Friends, I was already late as I wheeled my bike out of the house, fiddled in my bag for my keys, locked the door, turned on my favourite morning playlist and got on my bike. Only to sink a good few inches to the ground as my back tyre told me nope, today was not the day. 

I let myself back into my house and did what any independent 20 year old does when in doubt – I called my mum. After, somewhat brutal, encouragement to start walking pretty fast I found myself emailing my lecturer explaining I would be about 15 minutes late due to unforeseen bike difficulties – another puncture. 

Once again, the roads of York had failed me. And so the battle continues: I am now fully armoured with brand new ‘puncture-proof’ (or so I have been told) tyres, as opposed to new inner tubes, the normal fix for a puncture. I give them about two weeks…

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