It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Boris? He's Quite A Ride!

Just back from my first Boris Bike ride and I'm exhausted!

What's a Boris Bike?  Boris Bikes are the nickname for the London Barclays Cycle Hire bikes.

Hi, I'm Boris.  Care for a ride?

It's a fantastic bike hire scheme in London, launched in July last year, and nick named after Mayor Boris Johnson, who's an avid cyclist and just a teensy bit bonkers.

Here's Boris on a Boris - I know, it's a bit confusing ...

Anyway, I've been watching more and more Boris bike stations being set up around London over the last few months and there's one right outside Jim's door, so I thought I'd have a go on this lovely sunny day.

I was expecting the hire process to be difficult, but it only takes a few minutes and was surprisingly easy.  One thing you MUST have is a chip and pin credit card, as that's what you need to hire the bike.

It cost me the princely sum of £1 for 24 hours hire, and after I'd inserted my credit card into the machine and answered a few questions, the machine spat out a printed code.  I ambled over to the parking rack, typed the code in, and released my very own Boris.

I was a bit worried about what to do with my handbag, but there is a little basket type platform on the front of the bike, with thick elasticated straps that clip things onto it.  I was just about to head off, with my bag strapped to the platform, and a taxi driver called out and said he'd seen someone run up and grab a bag right off the front of the bike.  He recommended I wrap the handbag strap several times around my handlebars and then secure it to the platform with the elasticated platform strap - just for a bit of extra security.  Thanks Mr Taxi Driver!

There's also a wheel guard, so you don't have to worry about your skirt (or my floppy cardigan tails) getting caught in the wheel.  Each Boris has three gears, a bell and an adjustable seat. 

Now, I've not ridden a bike for quite a long time, but I gamely headed off along the canal into a formidable head wind, cruising happily past lovely moored canal boats, ducks and ducklings.  There are no bike helmets, so I thought it was safer to stick to the canal paths instead of the road.

Things I've discovered about myself and my Boris:-

  • Riding into a headwind is not pleasant.
  • Riding into a headwind is not easy.

After about 45 minutes I called it a day and returned Boris to his parking station, and exhaustedly walked across the road to home.

Even though I've collapsed on the sofa, I think the Boris scheme is fantastic and might even do it again tomorrow, probably around Hyde Park.  There are parking stations everywhere, and it's a cheap and cheerful way to get around London.

You don't have to return your Boris to the same parking station you got it from, you can ride it from one station to another.  I've seen lots of businessmen in suits riding around this time, it's a quick way to get across London if you're tough enough to deal with the traffic and the double decker buses (I'm not).

If you're a brave bike rider you can tackle roads, but there are plenty of bike paths and maps available on the website.


  1. They seem to be getting these in a lot of cities--it seems like a cool idea, but I haven't tried one yet. My next biz trip is to Brussels so maybe I'll try them there!

  2. I'm just back from riding Boris around Hyde Park, as promised. I put my credit card in so I could pay another £1 for 24 hours, and it said I still had 4 hours left from yesterday! There's not much you can get that's such good value, and I saw so much more of Hyde Park than I usually do - great stuff.

  3. Heehee, you're going to become a bicycle convert...

  4. I think not, horses are much easier! It is a great way to see a big city though. I'll do it again in London.


Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!