Tuesday, 17 August 2010

London Cycle Hire - Review by Sheffield Cycle Chic

I have just read a great review of the London Cycle Hire scheme on the Sheffield Cycle Chic blog. (Here is the link.)

It does seem to have problems (registration, key activation, getting through to the helpline) which hopefully will be resolved. However if you have planned to use the bike for only one day you appear to need an alternative plan to get around.

More importantly in her review SCC points out the poor cycle infrastructure, poor street signs and aggressive driving that we who cycle in London tend to accept as our lot. I completely agree with the need to reduce the speed limit in congested areas. I also don’t understand the various no cycle signs that seem to be springing up.

I nearly registered with the cycle hire scheme at the weekend but I couldn’t get through the registration process. I will try again. I have seen quite a few cyclists in Central London using them, but they appear to me to be people who work in the area and jumping on a bike is a quick way to get around, especially on a sunny day in August.

The photo was of the actor & bike I saw on the launch day of the scheme.  The fade effects are courtesy of my iPhone using the Hipstamatic Photo app.


Joseph said...

I have been following the London Cycle Scheme quite eagerly for the past year or so. Although I am yet to sign up, plan to get a years pass on Friday.

Now I'm out of London, this would be handy for those times I'm there to meet up with friends and such, where it would be difficult to get a secure (read indoors) spot for my foldable steed.

London needs more useful signs, aimed at Pedestrians and cyclists, which point to key stations, districts, and points of interest. At the moment, it can be very tricky trying to navigate, even simple routes such as Kings Cross to Waterloo (a key route I am sure.)

Investments need o be made in the infrastructure as well, in Paris they have extended bus lanes where segregated cycle routes were not installed (and by segregated that is on a raised surface, so no cars can drive onto it and nobody would dare park on them) One way routes allow cyclists to go both ways, this has been done around parts of Westminster. We could learn a lot from them.

Joseph said...

Just read the review...wow, that's one negative review.

There are a lot of valid points made however, and one would have thought that they would have tested the system before deploying it (us Brits have a very high tolerance for most things, unfortunately mediocrity is included.)

Let's hope that it improves, I certainly hope so. I was about to get a years pass on Friday but shall try the 24hr one instead, that way I needn't commit until they pull their finger out.

Anonymous said...

Might take a bit of getting used to but you will love it eventually.

Cycling in Heels said...

I really want the scheme to work and I have seen people riding the bikes with confidence. I have yet to find all the docking stations I would need, for my regular trips into London. I have downloaded a free iPhone app called London Cycle which should, via sat nav find your nearest station. But when I was out on Thursday and cycled passed a docking station on my Brompton I realised how far away I would have to park the hire bike and then continue walking to my destination. I also have to remind myself that I have a Brompton for goodness sake and can take the bike anywhere. I suspect I will be just a casual user and I will wait to see what the cost difference will be.

Joseph said...

Got the key on Friday, was in town yesterday. I was really excited about using one of the bikes, but due to a busy schedule decided to save it until the end. Intentionally went out of my way to Victoria, so I could cycle to Waterloo. After searching around for a good few minutes, I could not find any racks (nor signs to any) so decided to walk towards Waterloo and catch one on the way.

I finally found a rack...just outside Waterloo station. I'm glad I didn't opt for the annual subscription.

Cycling in Heels said...

How was the ride?

Joseph said...

2 things I noticed about it were that the wheels seemed very thick, and the gearing was rather low.

Although they do work well, the bikes are not meant for racing but a leasurly pootle and the low gears encourages that. The thicker tyres allow for more suspension so it feels like you're just gliding along. The seat is also very comfortable.

Never used the front rack but it seemed pretty superficial, as t was really small so I don't know if you'll get many people carrying their shopping on it, particularly from Oxford Street - assuming they have them docked there.

Overall, the bikes are very nice, if you want a leisurly pootle it does the trick, although if you need to get from A to B, then they are let down by their awkward, non-intuitive, placements therefore best stick to the Brompton/Trek for now.

Si said...

yep used them a few times, the gearing is far to low - you end up whirling your legs to get anywhere