This is a little personal story of when we hired the Barclays bikes to take us sightseeing around central London for the day.
When I visited London in June, the new Boris bike hire scheme appeared to be very, very popular and had grown loads since my last visit. Ordinarily I do NOT cycle. There are a number of reasons for this including:
1) I am pretty unfit.
2) I am always wearing a skirt.
3) I am afraid of traffic and now that I am no longer 8 years old it seems unacceptable to ride on the pathway.
For those who are unfamiliar with the scheme, there are basically docking stations full of bikes dotted all over central London. And when I say all over I mean it – you can’t walk more than 10 minutes without seeing one. You register using a debit/credit card at a station beside the bikes. It costs £1 for a 24-hour registration. You then get an access code for a bike, type it into the front rack part of one of the bikes and you are away. If you are on the bike less than 30 minutes before docking it again is free (apart from the £1 you already paid). An hour is 90p I think. You can dock this bike at any station around London where there is space for it. There are 6000 bikes in London, so in theory 6000 places to dump the bike although I have read online that during rush hour, getting rid of the bikes can be a problem! For us tourists during the middle of the day, our only problem was finding a station with 3 gaps.
Anyway back to the story. We had a great day on the bikes. We collected them from London Victoria tube station and first cycled up to Buckingham Palace and saw the changing of the guards.
Then as we cycled up the mall, we stopped when we saw the police guarding a gate out of the palace. We pulled up here and waited, only to see Kate Middleton being driven out in a car!
From there we made our way through Trafalgar Square, saw Nelson’s Column and the new Olympic Clock (sadly there are no photos of this as I was very scared of the inexplicable traffic and irate taxi drivers at this point!). Then we were in the theatre district of the West End, which was fun as it was full of people who I am sure were all jealous of our bikes!
Then there was just time so cycle around Soho Square (which is lovely), before returning our bikes to a docking station so that we could pay a visit to the Lomography shop on Newburgh Street.
I would really recommend this mode of transport to anyone visiting London. Not just for the low cost and ease of getting around but also because it was really fun and the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on anything. Even for a cycling novice like myself it was alright, and next time I am down that way I will be buying a 7-day pass!