I’m a sucker for just about anything on two wheels. (In fact, when I lived in New York City, I would frequently commute by Razor Scooter.) I’ve long been envious of the cyclist friendly ways of many large European cities. So, when a recent business trip took me to London, I was thrilled to be able to simply and inexpensively rent a bicycle and cruise around town. Sure, the tube is extensive and convenient. But there’s no better way to get to know a city than by getting lost among its windy streets. And there’s no better place to get lost than in London, which may have the most extensive bicycle rental system in the world. Check out this map with the locations of all the bike rental stations:
What’s so great about hundreds of bike racks? It simply means that anytime you want to park a bike and see a landmark, munch on some fish and chips, or talk about the weather with the locals, you won’t have to look far for a parking space. You also won’t have much trouble finding a bike to get you started on your adventure. All it takes is the swipe of a credit card and you’re off! Once you know what to look for, you’ll start to see them all over town.
Interestingly, the biggest sponsor of this cycling program is none other than Barclay’s Bank. The same bank that is getting pilloried in the press for its reckless pre-credit crisis practices but is now offering one of the more attractive credit card offers on the market. I like the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard, but I LOVE Barclay’s Cycle Hire. If you like cycling even a bit, I highly recommend checking it out.
At first, I was a bit hesitant to dive into London traffic. I’ve done quite a bit of cycling, but I knew my instincts for traffic patterns would be completely backwards in this brilliant corner of the world. I took things nice and easy for the first hour or so and tried my best to follow other cyclists through tricky intersections. It didn’t take long before I started to feel pretty comfortable riding on the
wrong left side of the road. Compared to cities like New York or Hong Kong, London is a sprawling city and a near perfect environment for a cycling adventure. The first night I rented a bike, I only planned to ride for an hour. However, the later I rode, the lighter traffic got. I ended up spending nearly three hours meandering through London’s ever-enticing streets. The pictures I took aren’t great, but they give you a sense of how much ground you can cover and how beautiful London is at night.
Shortly after my return, I was thrilled to learn that my current place of residence (SLC) will be getting a bike rental program of its own, Green Bike SLC. The program doesn’t officially launch until next Monday, but I signed up for my annual membership and managed to take a bike out for a spin this afternoon. It was a nice break from my perpetually growing email inbox.
It feels good to ride.