When I worked out it had been roughly ten years since I last rode a bike (bar the sporadic holiday trundle here and there), I decided it might be time to give it another go. Luckily aided by someone eager to make the most of a sunny day, I did this via the oh-so-accessible Boris Bikes dotted in bike toast-racks around London.
Now riding a Boris Bike is akin to riding a young, nimble tank. They’re built to last and are pretty heavy, so try to avoid stairs/steep hills. This means they’re almost impossible to turn around, but they also feel pretty secure when weaving betwixt the London traffic. There are three gears at least, which come in handy in different terrain. The cycle scheme was launched in London in 2010 to offer sporadic cyclists a green alternative to getting around town.If you are a Londoner, have a gander over here to find your closest Boris Bike station – but also look for those close to more picturesque/less central spots (canal paths etc – most parks don’t allow cyclists) to qualm potential fears of being scraped along a fence by a keen double-decker. Having done away with the membership requirements, one of these blue battleships has a rental fee of just £2, and the first half hour is free. It’s not just the exercise factor, fresh air and exploring London ‘on your own steam’ that’s rewarding, it is also often cheaper – with a return tube travel costing nearly £6 these days, and the nifty option of dropping the bikes at any station you fancy allows flexibility.
To give it a go, take a debit or credit card down to a Boris Bike station and punch in the details. The machine will print you a slip with a pin on it, which needs to be entered at a bike of your choice to release it. Shimmy the seat up or down, and you’re good to go. Before heading off, brush up on your bike hand signals and road etiquette, and where possible always wear a helmet to protect your noggin.
I found a few fellow peddlers to be a tad feisty on newer riders hogging the road – to share any stories with a boris biking community, or to find out about lovely cycles there’s a handy forum over here.