Winner of the Red Pepper Young Writers Competition
Jem Stein is from a cycling city – students and townies were spinning wheels in Oxford for decades before amateur veloists stormed London – and he and his brothers grew up on bikes. But cycling mania has its detritus: a jam of jilted rides, slipped chains and flat tyres. There are so many discarded bicycles in Oxford that the city regularly conducts culls, rounding up errant cycles like two‑wheeled badgers and ushering them on to an afterlife as scrap metal. London has its own lost bicycle problem now. Stolen and recovered wheels are backing up in police stations across the city and most of them will be eventually scrapped.