Sunday, 9 January 2011

Travelling in rush hour

I was recently asked a question on how I managed to get on a tube train with the Brompton in rush hour. This is my response.

I have learned to repeatedly say ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry’ even if I haven’t bumped into anyone. I find that it is better to be polite and gently assertive and people will make room if only to stare at someone travelling with a very small bike. I used to get offers from people helping me take the bike up and down stairs which I accepted. I looked and felt very tired in the early days when I was re-learning how to ride. Now I can carry the bike walking up and down escalators but I don’t because of safety issues.

My work takes me across London but luckily most appointments are after the morning rush hour and I don’t have to travel every day. Still there are lots of times when I have to use the tube train at rush hour but the recent fare rises means that I will probably reduce my use of the over ground train which is more expensive.

When I get on a crowded tube train I will use the large centre doors as there is less chance of me knocking anyone with the bike. I will also make a swift move to any corner so that I can park the bike and stand beside it. The newer trains have space for luggage with fold up seats which means if I get one the bike can sit out of the way. If I have to stand in the centre area standing with the bike between my legs is best to avoid the bike falling over onto anyone’s foot.

I can also make use of the ledge seats that some trains have. I did this in the photo above this week. I am sitting on a little ledge but with my feet on top of the frame of the Brompton I have made myself a proper seat.

If I can I tend to avoid changing trains and try to get a close as possible to my destination on one route and then cycle the rest of the way. But this also depends on the weather and traffic. (Do I want to cycle in the rain or heavy traffic? Or do I want to push the bike through a busy interchange?) It isn’t easy but at least I am not one of those poor travellers I see with very large set of suitcases trying to navigate stairs and escalators.

Cycling on a folding bike is not for the nervous.

For those who are interested. I am wearing my new Camper shoes with thick wool & Lycra grey tights from last years H&M collection.

Amendment made on 11.1.10


She Rides a Bike said...

You are so right. I am still trying to figure out how to do the 15 second fold. I'm certain that there is a learning curve and I hope to someday be ahead of it.

Ed said...

10 second fold, mastered, with a ridiculously old Brompton (2002-ish, second hand) that, until a comprehensive rebuild at Velorution was falling apart....

I feel you with regards to the taking Brompton on public transport thing. Lots of dirty looks, plenty of tutting on bad days.

P.S. Wrt your lock- ever considered a Kryptonite Evolution Mini, or a Kryptonite New York Mini? Brilliant lock for the Brompton, although slightly inflexible as the U loop is REALLY short....

Cycling in Heels said...

I think I have seen the Krytonite lock but as you say the U loop is too short. Ten seconds, that's a good time!