Had my first experience of using a Boris Bike yesterday and it was a mixed one.
I was at our Office in Minories near Aldgate East tube station and needed to be at London Bridge Station for a site visit at 10.30. having been discussing Boris Bikes with a colleague first thing I decided to give one a try for the short hop there and back.
I visited the TfL website and bought a single day access using my Mastercard. This cost me £1. If you use them a lot you can pay for a years access for £45. With instructions and map of bike collection / dropoff locations in hand I ventured out.
There was a collection point just round the corner which was easy. I put my Mastercard in the machine and it recognised that I had paid for access. It printed me a ticket with the release code for a bike and that was it. I selected my steed, entered the number and it gave me a bike. Cool.
Off I went down Minories, across Tower Bridge and right into the London Bridge area. The bike itself is heavy and whilst it has 3 gears you do have to pedal like fury to go any speed. I guess speed is not the idea. The seating position was not good but I guess looking back I could have adjusted the saddle height. The geometry of the bike is such too that the steering is a bit strange but you get used to it.
One of the issues I had was not being used to cycling in London and so not knowing where to go. Thats just me though – no fault of the Boris.
Arriving at my destination I went to me chosen bike park to drop off the bike only to find that there were no spaces in which to deposit my steed. I had been warned about this possibility so it does help to know where other bike points are. A short ride found another bike point where there were spaces and the bike was returned to a stand, the green light said it was in and hence all was hunky doory. I was less than 30 mins and so hire was free.
The return trip was less successful. I arrived at a Bike Point to find the machine saying it was doing an update and so please wait. I waited for a few mins then gave up and walked the short distance to another point to find the machine there saying the same thing. Without being able to put my Mastercard in I couldn’t take a bike. I gave up and walked back. I think that had I had a ‘key’ which you get with yearly access and a small charge, I could have got a bike regardless of what the machine was doing.
Despite the failure on the return leg I am sold on the idea and will definitely be using them again. The process is simple but you do need to leave time to drop the bike off in case the Bike Point is full and it helps to have a map of where the local Bike points are to aid this.
A few photos below.