United Kingdom - A Yankee hiring a Barclay bicycle in London? Bad idea?
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02-25-11, 03:08 PM
I will be in London on business end of March and want to hire a Barclay bike and try my luck on London streets on a Sunday afternoon. Is this shear madness? I guess the best perspective might come from those of you that have traveled outside of the UK and bicycled in a busy city.
Go for it! I've seen hundreds of people wobble past on those things (I wobble on them, too, because I usually ride a 12kg folding bike) and they're usually ok. London is good for cyclists on a Sunday, in fact, go to "The City" (http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=london&mrt=all&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Westminster,+London,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.51383,-0.089886&spn=0.007051,0.01929&z=16) and you'll probably have the place to yourself.
Traffic is reasonably quiet on a Sunday. Be wary of taxis and buses, and pedestrians will step in front of you, but go for it. Most fun you can have in London for £1!
Oh, steer clear of Oxford Street. It's a death trap (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23885151-bus-driver-charged-over-death-of-cyclist-crushed-on-oxford-street.do) (if the road works are still going - I never go near it now, so I don't know). If you stumble on to it by accident, swallow your pride and walk.
02-26-11, 01:57 AM
I've rented a bike in NY and had zero problems on the streets around Manhattan (Central Park down to 34th street, all the way east+west, Times Square etc.
You'll be fine in London on Sunday afternoon. The City will be relatively dead but Oxford Circus/Picadilly Circus/Marble Arch/Hyde Park/Regents Park etc will all be nicely packed. . If you get nervous, just get off the bike and walk for a bit. You should be fine on the bike.
02-26-11, 10:11 AM
Seeing how people drive in the USA and after hearing some of the stories on here, riding in London is easy :D
I see lots of people on those bikes. As said above just make sure you watch out for taxis and buses, also coaches and lorries! Steer clear of the shopping areas (as said above Oxford Circus is crazy - even bikes can't move in the traffic there).
Enjoy yourself :)
02-27-11, 02:35 PM
Thanks much for the support all. Looking at the map, the most congested roads I intend to cross are Clerckenwell, Farringdon, and Gray's Inn Road as I move from the Russell's Square area towards Barbican. And it seems that I should be able to even stay off of those roads. Cheers!
03-01-11, 12:33 AM
Have fun :D
Seriously, don't think about congestion. That part of town is very quiet on a Sunday. If you go early, you might not see many people at all.
Oh, and something to be aware of: jaywalking is not illegal, so pedestrians can quite legally step in front of you. Assume they are about to do that and ding the bell merrily if one strays close to kerb while you are passing.
You might want to spend some time on this site (https://web.barclayscyclehire.tfl.gov.uk/maps) on a Sunday. Click on any rack and you can see the availability of bikes and spaces. I would think on a sunday, there would be plenty of both.
03-22-11, 02:31 AM
Here's my thoughts so far:
The bikes are easy to rent (when there are bikes in the rack to rent, that is) and work well as long as 10mph is your top intended speed. Bikes weigh in around 50lbs easy, but have a nice 3 spd internal hub, so you can spin as easy or as hard as you want. Having no helmet doesn't feel that great, but the lower speed helps me rationalize it a bit. In the late morning, all the bikes by the train/tube stations are gone, and end up filling up the racks at the business centers such that it can be hard to find a rack to return the bike! Same in the evening except reversed, so you had better rise early and leave work a bit early if you want a bicycle. That said, I think it a HUGE sign of success that the cycles are hitting 100% utilization in many areas of the city. Time to make the thing bigger, if you ask me. Problem is that it doesn't really pay for itself does it, and Barclay's will have to dig out their check book if they need to increase it?
03-24-11, 09:08 AM
One parting recommendation for folks from USA doing this: LEAVE your credit card in the reader until the screen confirms it read your card. If you try to swipe too fast, it won't read right or will take a long time to respond.
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