Sunday, 8 August 2010
Riding around on the London Cycle Hire Scheme
I finally made it to try out the new London Cycle Scheme. Its already been running a week, but I just haven't had the opportunity.
Then, Sunday evening, a moment presented itself. I was at the Knightsbridge Pont Street rack and there were about five or six cycles available.
I found the little card and slotted it in, watching a little set of lights change from red to green. Yippee! I could get a bike. Except it wouldn't come out of the rack. I tried a couple more times but then noticed someone else struggling with the same problem.
I moved to another rack and tried again. Green light and this time the bike came free. Neither of us were sure what the problem had been, but I was ready to try the bike.
First impression, well built, but quite heavy. I realised I needed to adjust the seat and work out whether the big black elastic band was important (only for carrying things). I set off along the road and instantly noticed two things. One - the gearing was rather low and two, I was surprisingly wobbly.
I stopped and changed to gear 3, which was as high as it would go. This immediately felt better and I was able to start off in a more refined manner. I headed down the first side street to get used to the bike and by the time I'd traversed the square I was more comfortable.
The bike runs quietly and is surprisingly upright compared to my own bikes. The three speed hub gears are probably useful although I stayed in 3 for almost the whole time.
After a few minutes I realised how much I was grinning on this new addition to London's transport and simultaneously realising I didn't know where the other nearby docking stations were located.
I know the area I was cycling around quite well, but I was also interested in the sensation of having to remember the one way systems in this hybrid world between pedestrian and road user.
I was also struck by how many people were looking at me on the bike. Not my wobbling, which had stopped after the first couple of minutes, but I think they were showing the same novelty interest that I've also had as the scheme was introduced.
I re-docked the bike within the 30 minute 'free' period and although that was a few hours ago, I'm still grinning.