Today I decided I needed a new experience, so having worked in London for two and a half years (and having got the Central Line for the last four months of that) I decided to take my life into my hands (if some of the stories you read are to be believed) and hire a Boris Bike (sorry Ken & Barclays’ Shareholders!).
I got off the train and raced down the exit, as excited as a schoolboy with a new toy (or to make myself not decide the Central Line was the better option – I’ll let you decide). After reading through the two pages of instructions and 37, I kid you not(!), pages of terms and conditions, on the touch screen display, I gave up and clicked okay, shoved my credit card in and pressed Yes.
My ticket was duly printed and I got on a bike of my choice. Lovely granny basket on the front (which I made full use of, for my packed lunch). And off I pedalled.
The bike was the easiest thing in the world to ride – only three gears and even a little bell to ding at random times to keep yourself amused (as a regular London pedestrian I know they aren’t for reacting to).
After a minor detour I got to work, a little warm but rather smug with myself for having completed my main objective of the day, before 9am, of still being alive.
After a hard day’s work I found a different docking station much close to my work on the map. My two colleagues bid me a fond farewell, telling me it had been a short and sweet 4 months and that it was nice having known me.
My lack of knowledge of London really came to the fore as, after pedalling for a good mile and a bit, I though ‘Erm, where am I? I needed to head South somewhere!’. Sadly having only walked/tubed/occasionally driven I knew the one way streets, but not as a cyclist, so I had struggled to work out in my head where to go.
Anyway, after a sign instructing me to ‘switch my headlights in the tunnel’ (erm didn’t know there were any tunnels between work and Fenchurch Street), having to cross a pedestrian only bit (dismounting, of course), roadworks and NO blasting of horns at me I found my way back to Fenchurch Street, just in time to miss the fast train home (some things never change!).
Overall a great experience, healthy and pretty safe – all motorists bar one were very considerate. Mainly other bike users and pedestrians to watch out for.
Will do it again tomorrow? Yes, as long as it isn’t raining.
Definitely will get a helmet if I do long term riding though.
It is a shame that Southend is not big enough to have its own (Woodley’s Wheels?) scheme that would be viable, although it hick there is a small scheme at Southend Victoria.
And, the question everyone will ask? Did I ride through any red lights? Well, as my mum reads this blog (and wasn’t told about this death defying bike experience until it was over!), I think I’ll finish there…