Sorry for two cycling-related posts in one day, but I've neglected to tell you about the latest Polish fad - Borisbikes. Not the Barclays ones, of course, but the same principle. The Polish ones are operated by BikeOne - which charges about £3 per week plus 60p an hour. But be careful - Polish police have a zero-tolerance approach to drinking and cycling; over 4,500 Poles are currently banged-up in jail for being caught over the limit a second time, with 51,000 convicted every year. A first offence will earn a heavy fine and a suspended sentence, activated on a second offence. About 8 months is the average, with release on licence after 4 months, though the incapably drunk cyclist may get up to ten years.
Cycling Poles are not happy. "Against a European background, Poland is like Saudi Arabia" complained one to Polish daily Gazeta. The UK and Scandinavia have no drink limits for cyclists. Arrest numbers for suspected drunk cycling of 73,000 in 2011 against 110,000 car drivers arrested shows just how seriously the Polish police treat this offence. Cyclists protest that in the period 2006 - 2011 only a single fatality was caused by a drunken cyclist, that Polish police hide in the bushes on lakeside paths where only walkers and cyclists have access, and that they hide outside the 24hr Alkohol skleps.
Tadeusz laughs as he tells Gazeta of his British experience "I lived in England for about seven years. About three years ago (OK maybe I shouldn't brag) I was riding drunk on the pavement; very drunk, with a can in my hand. I was detained by a policeman also riding a bike, who lectured me on drunk riding and made me throw my can in a waste bin. I was really upset and gave him some verbal - and all he could do was give me an £80 ticket for no brakes!"
Andrew's experience in Poland was somewhat different. He was first caught in 2010 cycling home from watching a soccer match when he was stopped by police - paying a hefty fine and being banned from owning a bike for a year, as well as a suspended prison sentence. In 2011, his ban up, he bought another bike - but got only 12m from the bike shop when he was stopped; this time he got six months in prison and a two year ban on having a bike.
And cyclists think they've got it hard here?