Sunday, 8 August 2010

Riding around on the London Cycle Hire Scheme

London Bike 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.

London Cycle Hire SchemeI 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.

London Bike SchemeI 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.

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