Boris Bikes: The Key To The City

Regardless of thoughts on Boris being PM, as Mayor of London, he was great. Introducing Boris Bikes is a great example of this with over 100,000,000 rentals since their inception in 2010. London is sprawling so having access to 14,000 bikes spread out over 40 square miles is a godsend, taking the chore out of having to trudge for miles on end to get from one place to another.

Rental Process

First up you’ll need the “Santander Cycles” app (Apple / Android). Now you have it downloaded and installed load it up and you’ll see a map with all the bike stations around you. When you click on the one you want to use, it will tell you how many bikes are available and how many free spaces there are.

Once you press “hire now” and enter your card details (You get the option to save the card to your account so you don’t have to keep on entering it) you will be given a 5 digit code. You have up to 10 minutes to enter said code in to the bike stand located on the left of the front wheel. When the light above the number pad goes green, you may take the bike.

When you’re finished, find an empty space, insert the bike into the dock with a decent amount of force and wait for the orange light to go green. That’s it secured.

Stats

A neat little feature on the app is under the activity tab. Not only does it show where you rented the bikes from and returned them to, it tells you:

  • How long your rides were
  • How far you rode
  • How many calories you burned
  • Along with your daily totals.

The Bike

She’s a beauty! Aptly designed for its environment it’s a tank. Easily coming in at well over 20kg it inspires confidence should you want to send it down a set of stairs or off a kerb. The seat is on the chunkier side but it’s fine should you be spinning for an hour or 2. It’s also sealed so if it’s been raining all night you just wipe it over and it’s dry.

Another well thought out feature is the fully enclosed chain and chainring. If you’ve ever been on a night out and attempted to ride a bike, you soon realise when your jeans get caught that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea.

Short Comings

The biggest issue which is a complete and utter faff is when you finally get to your docking station and there are no bays left to dock your bike so you have to ride a 5 mins in the wrong direction to the nearest station where there are spaces. Yes you can look on the app to see which ones have space but when your cycling in the capital, you don’t really want to be looking on your phone to check for avilability.

A small one which is worth mentioning is the gearing, it is good, however should you be hauling in 3rd gear it isnt uncommon to hit a bump and it drop to second gear and your leggs to spin frantically. Again just a minor one but if you’ve only ever had your cycling proficiency badge and havent done much cycling since, you could end up in an accident.

Thoughts?

On a nice day Boris Bikes are an incredible way to see the city. The bike lanes with their own dedicated traffic lights do a good job of keeping you safe and at £2 a day providing you dock atleast once every 29 mins its an absolute bargain. My advice for a good day out in london would be to get a Boris Bike, do some sight seeing then go for a picnic in one of the many parks.

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