Posted by Alan on May 5, 2011
Just before Easter we made a trip across the channel to Paris. Being a regular BorisBike user, trying a Vélib was on the to-do list.
Ruth a la Vélib
First impressions were that these bikes are more flimsy. They don’t feel as heavy as the blue bikes of London and fixtures and fittings all seem a little smaller.
Basket not bag pouch
The first most striking difference is the basket, rather than the bag ‘pouch’ we have in London. This doesn’t make a lot of difference to me as I always carry some kind of bag, but I could see how if you didn’t how a basket could be much more useful. The gears and bell are exactly the same. Additionally you have a lock, so you can park anywhere if you need to – this means once you have a bike you can rely on it to be there. It is a source of frustration in London that the natural flow of bikes means that you’ll often find a city centre dock empty and have have to change your plans…
The saddle looks the same, though there are no helpful numbers on the seat post for quick adjustment. The docking mechanism is fitted to the side rather than the front – this felt a bit less solid than London, though it may mitigate against the idea of ‘hot-docking’ (riding into a dock without dismounting) for fear of leg injury!
During our days in Paris we saw many wrecked bikes in docking stations. According to wikipedia, many are vandalised as a backlash against the primary user group, the “bo-bos”: bourgeois-bohemians, the trendy middle class French. I haven’t yet seen this in London, despite the bikes being used primarily by a similar demographic. Towards the suburbs, the tyres and inner tubes seemed to be main target – many docking stations had multiple broken bikes in them.
Being a regular in London, I haven’t actually tried the casual hire process though I have been shown it. You put your card in and are given a receipt which you take to a docking station and key numbers in to the dock, using the 3 digit pad to the left of the wheel. Next time you want to take bike you put your card in again and it gives you a new receipt. It sounds onerous, but after Paris I can see how TfL came to that choice.
In Paris, you are given a card with a subscriber number on. This must be key in at the terminal where you then select your bike – if the only available bike happens to be 10 metres away at the other end of the dock so be it. Run! Push the button on the dock and the bike is released. I wasn’t too keen on this idea – at a nearly empty docking station it would be very easy for someone to take the bike you just rented and in the process lose you €150 in bike non-return fees…
Anyway I enjoyed the two circular trips I made and if I do go back to Paris I’ll certainly be using Vélib again.
Posted in Cycling | Tagged: basket, borisbike, bourgeois-bohemians, casual, Cycle hire, Cycling, France, free, hotdocking, lock, London, Navigo, nerd, Oyster, Paris, RFID, vandalism, Vélib | 1 Comment »
Posted by Alan on February 24, 2011
A few weeks ago Mr C of MCR Cycling came to visit, mostly to play on the BorisBikes (more of that later) as well as drink scotch at WhiskySquad #11 and buy a shiny Brompton. As part of our day on the cycle hire scheme we took in what I would call a proper cycle superhighway. Straight and segregated, the paths across Hyde Park stretching from Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner and onto Kensington are absolutely fantastic. They aren’t quite wide enough for really comfortable passing at speed but it was easy enough to pass with care.
In 30 seconds we pass 4 bikes coming out of town – if there were more lanes like this maybe more people might be persuaded to use pedal power to commute regularly. I haven’t got to commuting myself yet but after Bogle is done, I’ll be onto training for the C2C so I’ll need to build up some stamina and ditch the final 10 kgs before I hit ‘normal’. 10-11 miles each way will be hard to start with but having cycled into town once now I know it is at least not beyond my capability.
Talking of Bogle – sponsorship is now open. I hope you can spare a few quid and gift aid via http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011! There’s just over a week left before the epic overnight walk begins. Exciting times!
On a lighter note – during the quiet spell mid afternoon, Mr C managed to perfect a wheelie technique. Well, it isn’t specifically banned under the code of conduct!
Oh look a wheelie
Posted in Cycling | Tagged: bike, borisbike, Brompton, C913, Cycle hire, Cycling, Hyde Park, Hyde Park Corner, Kensington, London, marble arch, Speed | 5 Comments »
Posted by Alan on November 26, 2010
Cycling on the pavement is bad and wrong. Just stop it.
It’s this kind of cycling that gives us who obey the law a bad name. If you’re tempted to… just don’t!
Posted in Cycling, Transport Rant | Tagged: borisbike, Cycling, London, Queen Victoria St | 3 Comments »
Posted by Alan on August 17, 2010
I promise not to write every time I get on a damn bike, honest! Today saw me take one of the borisbikes from Victoria to Liverpool St. According to my phone GPS this was 5 miles (8km) – which I achieved in the respectable time of 23 mins. Sadly the GPS lies – it’s just 3.3 miles (5.3km) which is only an average of 8mph.
Never mind, I’ll try again tomorrow and might try a different route. (I might also try not wearing a suit!).
Am I alone in thinking the Victoria Embankment would make a great cycle super-highway?
Posted in Cycling | Tagged: borisbike, Cycling, gps, London, maps, westminster | 3 Comments »