My shiny new Barclays Cycle Hire key arrived last night, so today at lunch time I rushed out to give it a try.
The experience was a mixed one, but mainly positive. The thrill of whizzing along quiet London back-streets, and arriving at my destination far quicker than walking were the main benefits.
The downsides are other traffic and pedestrians. Within minutes of setting off, I had been nudged by an impatient taxi driver, and nearly run over a couple of pedestrians who stepped out in front of me (a case of saved by the bell). Also the three gears are a bit limiting. First is fine for a quick get away from the traffic lights, but it could really do with another couple further up to slow down the legs on the flat or downhill sections. Probably the biggest disappointment was the poor state of repair our roads are in. I had to swerve around a couple of enormous potholes, and was glad the bikes are such a sturdy construction.
The other current snag is the lack of locations to pick up and leave the bikes. My nearest docking station is a good five minutes walk away, and I had the same problem at my Holborn destination. Although thanks to the computerised system I was able to ensure the parked bikes were properly registered (Boris warns of teething problems).
Despite all of the above, I’m already looking forward to my next adventure on a Boris Bike.