An American on a Hired Bike?

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  beelpaula 6 years ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
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  • #74576

    bergerandfries
    Participant

    I’m going to be in London for business. I plan to take a Sunday afternoon and a quiet section of Bloomsbury/Clerkenwell to practice my route a bit, and on Monday morning leave for the office a little later, say 9:30am.

    I’m an experienced cyclist, just on the wrong side of the road. Any tips for me to adjust for what I do now to what I’ll have to do in London? I understand about the lorries/cabs/HGVs and the left hook. I understand too about pedestrians stepping into the lane. Anything else?

    #83043

    ruth_dt
    Participant

    Where in the US are you from? Have you ever navigated a roundabout? I believe they have them WI, but not many other places.

    #83044

    bergerandfries
    Participant

    Replying to @ruth_dt‘s post:

    Coming from Dallas, TX. I have navigated a roundabout; just rotates the other way here. Most people in the States don’t know how to use them anyway, even if they have them locally. Lots of unnecessary yielding and starting at each other in USA traffic circles…

    #83045

    cyclingnewbie
    Participant

    I recently did the same as you, in Paris.

    My advice – get a good map of London, which shows one-way streets (London is full of them), and avoid cycling on busy roads.

    If you have an iphone, purchase an app which allows offline storage of the London streetmap.

    Always be aware of left turning vehicles, and do not undertake (pass on the left) at junctions.

    There are few roundabouts in central London (unlike Paris!) – if you find one, get off and walk around the edge on the pavement.

    Pay attention and take it slowly and you’ll be fine.

    I had a great time whizzing around Paris (which admittedly has better cycle lanes / contraflows). I got used to the right hand side driving almost straight away.

    #83046

    cyclingnewbie
    Participant

    BTW cycling in Bloomsbury is great. Look out for the rather odd segregated East/West route on Tavistock / Torrington Place. London cyclists have a love – hate relationship with the thing! Some odd priorities and turning rules at junctions there, so pay attention to the signs.

    #83047

    radii8
    Participant

    One way streets in Central London… and bear in mind a lot of cyclists don’t obey them so look both ways.

    #83048

    djc
    Participant

    Replying to @bergerandfries‘s post:

    Quote:
    on Monday morning leave for the office a little later, say 9:30am

    Think about where you will dock, you may find it difficult. And on Mondays it may also be difficult to find a free bike as they are more evenly distributed over the weekend. The O’Brien map http://oobrien.com/vis/bikes/ is good for understanding the distribution pattern of bikes and the tidal flow.

    #83049

    bergerandfries
    Participant

    Replying to @cyclingnewbie‘s post:

    Outstanding info, cheers for that. Indeed it seems Tavistock/Torrington are key roads back to my hotel according to the cycle journey planner.

    #83050

    bergerandfries
    Participant

    Replying to @djc‘s post:

    Quote:
    The O’Brien map http://oobrien.com/vis/bikes/ is good for understanding the distribution pattern of bikes and the tidal flow.

    That’s a gem. I will watch it daily until I arrive so hopefully I’ll get an understanding.

    Quote:
    One way streets in Central London… and bear in mind a lot of cyclists don’t obey them so look both ways.

    It’s the same in the States, BikeSnobNYC calls them “Bike Salmon”, and they cause a great deal of chaos for pedestrians and other cyclists…

    Quote:
    get a good map of London, which shows one-way streets (London is full of them), and avoid cycling on busy roads.

    Excellent advise. It shall be done!

    Replying to @radii8‘s post:

    #83051

    claudia
    Participant

    You may know this already, but cars here can parallel park facing in *any* direction. I’m from the States, too, and on some days I have to still fight the feeling that I’m going the wrong way down a street. It can be very disorienting for those of us from the other side of the pond (and road) :-)

    #83052

    claudia
    Participant

    And since you mention the Tavistock-Torrington route, a good thread to read is:

    http://www.borisbikes.co.uk/topic.php?id=505#post-4812

    Best Wishes for a fun and safe ride around London!

    #83053

    Ruzzi
    Participant

    I can’t add much to the useful information the other members have said, but if you haven’t already done so it might be interesting to familiarise yourself with the scheme itself, especially the costs as outlined on the TFL website:

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/15150.aspx

    I’m a state pensioner and find the bikes easy to ride and feel safe on them especially wearing my cycle helmet and high viz jacket.

    The scheme is a brilliant leisurely way to see our beautiful city – enjoy yourself.

    #83054

    mit
    Participant

    We have about 500x as many road signs and markings everywhere than you have, and they are often quite different and have different meanings, so the first thing you should do is brush up on our highway code.

    The second thing you should do is prepare yourself for carnage. You will be sharing the road with cars, lorries, taxis and buses, as well as pedestrians, often cycling only a few inches away from the side of a taxi. This can be very intimidating at first, but you should stand your ground.

    Have a read of my friend Howard’s blog post about cycling in London. It’s very good advice…

    #83055

    bergerandfries
    Participant

    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? 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.

    I also have heard that Reading is getting ready to have a bike-hire-scheme as well. Can’t wait for that as that is the other place I visit in the UK…

    #83056

    Paco de Bango
    Participant

    Nice review.

    By the way, it’s ‘cheque’ book :wink:

    and on that subject, does anyone know whether any of these schemes pay for themselves?

    Do Paris & Montreal have to have constant cash boosts from sponsors or the state?

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