I returned to London for the weekend from Bristol for this and caught the coach rather than the train for cost reasons. This meant I couldn’t bring my bike. The last thing I felt like doing when I arrived at Victoria was getting on another bus, so I hired a bike instead. This is only the second time I have used one of these bikes and I was seriously impressed by the simplicity of the process. I found a docking station, put in my credit card, chose a 24hour hire period, grabbed my ticket and released a bike. It then fell over as I am used to a diamond frame and clamping my knees together while I faffed with my bag did nothing to steady the bike. I also found the bike wobbled if started at the lights in the highest gear. Apart from that, I found the bike very easy to use; the gearing is fine for stop-start city riding, the brakes were tight, the upright position made me smile at people and I enjoyed the fat tyres that ignored the pot-holed road.
I was humoured by how many people had to get passed me, regardless of the fact that I was generally going at the same speed or faster in some cases. The fact that I wobbled occasionally and the bike fell over at the start of the ride probably made me look like a novice cyclist, and in many respects I am a novice London Hire Bike rider. It reminded me of how we tend to look at other road users as different; even though we are by and large all multi-modal citizens with differing levels of experience in each mode. Interviewees have talked about being multiple kinds of riders; road, hybrid, mountain bike, touring, family, solo, social, commuter, slow, fast, stressed, relaxed, confident. They also walk, drive cars or are car passengers, have motorbikes or scooters, catch buses, trains and coaches. I rarely ride these kinds of bikes as there are few occasions when I am without a bike so this experience was great, not only because it was a thoroughly nice way to get home but it also served as a reminder about what it is like to be another kind of road user.