August 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm #73762
I had my first go on Saturday night, when I discovered The Issue With Some Rear Wheels Not Freewheeling Properly and The Issue With The Wait Between Docking And Undocking being especially annoying when your bike is faulty.
So as the daily access is for 24 hours (hooray) rather than to 4.30 am like one day travelcards, on Sunday lunchtime, I thought I’d cycle between the National Theatre and Tate Britain.
Getting a bike from under Waterloo Bridge, no problem. (Does the rack allegedly by the BFI Imax exist?) Going round the roundabout to the south of Westminster Bridge, no problem, but I am confident about roundabouts and given the things’ acceleration (not good) I can see some people ending up walking around such places. Across the bridge, past Parliament, ding the bell going past the remaining tent and banners, along Millbank to the rack at the corner of Tate Britain shown on the paper map.
Which doesn’t exist. (The rack, not the gallery or the map.)
OK, on to Vauxhall Bridge, grr. Get a receipt. Rack to rack time, 13 minutes. I will have to try it on a real bike to see what difference the weight and the gearing make.
Go to the Henry Moore exhibition – very good.
OK, time to go back home. Go back to the Vauxhall Bridge rack. There are two young people in official Barclays Cycle Hire t-shirts who are supposed to be helping people. Adjust saddle on a bike (do this before getting it out of the rack and save time), put key in hole, amber light (checking), red light (no!)
It’s not the undocumented delay between dropping one bike off and being able to hire another (yes, they say, that should be in the documentation) because I’ve been at the Tate for nearly two hours.
Try about ten other bikes. No, no, no, no.. etc. One is flashing amber and red, does that mean there’s a problem? They don’t know.
In fact, they don’t know much. They don’t have a key of their own between them, so they can’t check the site is working, and they don’t have a phone to call the helpline. They’ve been given a t-shirt each, but that’s about it. (And this, my friends, is Boris’s London for you.)
I try my key in the kiosk that should be able to report your balance and recent journeys (and which was working earlier) but no. Did I make sure I got a green light when I left the bike there earlier? Yes, and – thank ghod – I have the journey printout to prove it. So it’s not that.
Give up. Ok, it’s walking to Victoria and getting a train. By this point, I have missed the train I would have been able to get had I just walked there from the Tate, grr.
I pass two other racks on the way and try my key at both. It works at neither – one kiosk is stuck in its ‘looking up info’ display.
Was the whole thing down? I’m tempted to ask for some of the access fee back – the train journey cost about £1 more than the bus from Waterloo Bridge would have done.(c) 2010 – not for reproduction elsewhere without permission.August 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm #75545
I think there was a brief period on Sunday afternoon when the whole system crashed and you couldn’t unlock bikes anywhere. I tried to release a bike in the West End and got a red light, tried another at the same station, again red light, and another and so on. I assumed it was a dodgy station so gave up and walked 10 minutes to another where I successfully released a bike. The helper there was surprised I’d released one as people had been experiencing the same problem just five minutes earlier. I assume someone at BCH HQ had tried switching the system off and on again in the intervening period!August 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm #75546
Yes the whole system went down for around 25mins (I think) on Sunday afternoon. They rebooted. I had a similar issue so I called the helpline who told me that they were having problems and so had decided to reset the system. I waited 15 mins and all was fine.
Annoying I know, but hopefully a one-off.
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