A few weeks ago, I was approached by Barclay’s bikes to try their cycle to work for the week. Unfortunately the week coincided with the week that I was in Portugal, and I live further West than the Barclay’s Bikes extend (although I did see them in Hammersmith!) but I agreed to adpot my own challenge. I challenged myself to use a Barclay’s Bike in place of the bus/tube when travelling between meetings, events, meeting up with friends during the week instead. I cycled from work to Covent Garden and back again, to the Strand, from Waterloo to work, and to Liverpool St. Tom even adopted his own challenge and cycled from Victoria to Brick Lane, and wanted to cycle home after a few drinks too, but that is another story (don’t worry, we didn’t let him!)
Using a Barclay’s Bike (OK, I know most people know them as Boris Bikes!) is a great option in London, as they’re cheap- free if you re-dock within 30mins, or £1 for up to an hour. You can also register and pay £2 for up to 24 hours of unlimited journeys! You will find them near tube stations and tourist attractions, as well as busy areas across London.
They’re great for short journeys, or for a sightseeing! Here are some tips that I’ve learnt from my experience this week. Before getting on your bike, ensure that it is fit to ride, and if not- put it back, press the faulty button, and find another bike!
Plan your route
Before getting on the bike and into the flow of traffic, try and have a route planned out in your head. Know that sometimes the fastest routes are not the safest routes, and plan accordingly. There a plus points and negative points to hitting the busy roads during rush hour- you get to overtake a lot of cars in queues but it is a little scary. Try to stick to roads you know, where possible. I also keep my google maps loaded on my phone in my pocket whilst cycling, so that I can always pull over and consult it to avoid getting lost.
Have a back-up Bike Dock
Sometimes when you need a bike most, the nearest Barclay’s Bike station is completely empty (speaking from experience, when running late for a meeting!). If you’re relying on a Barclay’s Bike to get you somewhere, make sure you know of a back-up docking station nearby, maybe one tucked down a side street that isn’t as popular. The ones near stations often empty and fill up most quickly, depending on the time of day, (empty in the morning, full in the evening!) so give yourself a few options, and the time to walk between the two!
Do your research
Know where you’re starting your trip, but more importantly, where you are finishing it! I recently cycled to Covent Garden, only to discover, that there aren’t any docking stations in the immediate Covent Garden area. Don’t just assume you’ll find a docking station near your final destination point, work out in advance one or two docking points that are convenient for you, even if it means a little bit of a walk.
Try not to wear inappropriate gear
You are probably not going to be wearing sports gear when cycling around town on a Barclay’s Bike, however try to ensure that you will still be safe in your chosen cycling attire. I cycled in a mini shirt and ballet pumps last week, which wasn’t all that sensible. I felt a lot less safe on the bike, and flashed my knickers and tights to a lot of commuters- overall not a success! At the least, I would recommend changing your shoes, so that you’re not cycling in slippery flats, or high heels! Also remember to securely put your bag (if you have one) in the front ‘basket’ of the bike.
Put a lid on it
Barclay’s bikes don’t come with helmets, and I get that it’s not all that convenient to lug a helmet around in your handbag, but if you complete your whole commute by Barclay’s Bike, or use them a lot, I would strongly recommend wearing a helmet. Cycling brand Carrera even offer a folded helmet for this very purpose!
As always when cycling, please be careful, check out my tips for Cycling Safely on the Road where I’ve shared the information I learnt during my cycling lesson!
I was lent a Barclay’s Bike fob for a week, all opinions and knicker flashing are my own.