Ray Burridge, from Yapton, came up with the Gemara bike locking system in 1980 after he became fed up with continually logging missing bikes as lost property.
The system, which sees a simple thick metal bar that can be unhooked and swung through the bike’s frame, was ahead of its time – and become a victim of its own popularity as a huge order meant the fledgling business had to fold under overtrading laws in 1986.
However, it had already been installed by Bournemouth council and that system stayed in place and operational with no thefts for 17 years until it was no longer possible to reorder lost keys.
Now Ray, who is originally from Paulsgrove, said it is the ideal time to dust off his design as more people turn to bikes as a safer and greener way to travel – and in the face of rising bike thefts.
And he said that Portsmouth is the perfect city to adopt his scheme, and he is calling on investors to get involved.
Ray, 72, said: ‘It took me about five seconds to think of it and another five to design it. But it took me four years to get a patent.
‘People have called it brilliantly simple. It got a lot of media attention at the time.’
The system works by inserting a coin that releases a key, similar to a leisure centre locker, and that releases the bar, which can then be locked into place through the bike’s frame or wheels.
Ray said the idea was not about making money, but about stopping bike theft.
‘It all started when I was a police officer,’ he said.
‘A young lad of eight years old came in to the station to say that he had had his bike stolen. I was told to log it under lost property.
‘But I knew that he hadn’t lost his bike, someone had stolen it.
‘That’s when I started to think about what we needed to do to stop it at its source.
‘This idea was never about making money.’
Ray, who left the police in 1984, has recently suffered cancer and he had to have an ileostomy bag fitted, but he said this has made him more determined than ever to see his design take off.
‘I have nearly died four times, but it puts life in perspective. It makes you get out there and do whatever you can while you still have the time,’ he said.
Ray has pitched his idea to several Portsmouth councillors, but he said he would like investors to get on board to help push his idea forward.
He said: ‘As we are coming out of lockdown it is the ideal time to invest.
‘It would make me so proud to see it put in in my home city.’
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