I’ve been in London for a couple of days and have managed to avoid the tubes for every journey. Instead I’ve been using a Boris bike (or Barclays Bikes to give them their official titles) to get around central London. It was only a few weeks go that I used one for the first time and now I am hooked as they have become my favoured form of transport in London.
It’s dead easy. You just have to find a bike that is free at one of the docking stations (like the one shown in the TfL picture) and to get going, you just have to put your debit card in one of the payment pillars (then take it out again before starting the registration process) and once you’ve signed up paying your £2 fixed charge, a 5 digit code will be printed out to use to unlock a bike from the dock.
The bikes have got a handy rack at the front which are sized conveniently to secure anything as small as a folder, a briefcase or (as I found today) a boxed laptop. The luggage is secured with a tough rubber strap which gives piece of mind but can make the front of the bike more difficult to balance if there is a lot stowed in front of the handlebars.
I’ve downloaded the Barclays Bike app and its pretty good to help with routes because I’m a relative stranger to London, but it could be better if it had some audio instructions because at the moment I’ve been stopping to check I am on the right route.
Many of the roads across town have a cycle lane on them now and there seems to be an acknowledgement among cabbies and bus drivers that cyclists are part of the road using community so I’ve not had any problems with traffic. It’s just worth being vigilant because there’s a lot going on and it’s not uncommon for herds of pedestrians to start crossing at traffic lights regardless of what colour they are shining.
The best thing I’ve found is that I don’t get sweated up on a Boris bike in the same way that I do on a racer because it is far more upright and relaxed. In fact, I even managed to get my mate Ricardo to have a go when we were on the way out to a swanky dinner. We must’ve looked like a right pair of plums cycling to an awards dinner all suited and booted but anything is better than the tube, right?