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THE UK: Destination Guides

Cruising around London town in Barclays Cycle

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An alternative way of getting around London, Barclays Cycle scheme is certainly one that excites international students. Here's student blogger Ben Pakhrin to tell us about his experience...


After attending a gathering with a few people in East London, my two friends and I were on our way back home in the DLR. It was midnight already and we were running late to catch the last train that would take us to Hounslow. After getting off at Tower Hill station to change to the central line, here I was with my friends running towards the other entrance of the station to catch the last train. Knowing that we may not be able to catch the last train, we ran as fast as we could and I am sure that if it was us running in the 100m dash then even Usain Bolt wouldn’t have been able to catch us! However, we ended up missing the train by a few seconds and we were gutted. All that running was for nothing and all that was left was exhaustion and muscle cramps due to the sudden sprint.


We got out of the station and made our way towards the nearest bus stop whilst moaning and blaming each other for not running fast and figuring out whose fault it was that we missed the train. It was then that something blue with red flashy lights caught our eyes just outside The Tower of London. It was the recent mode of transportation taking over the commuters and travellers in London. It was the Barclays Cycle Hire docking station! At first we were just joking about cycling all the way home which was around 11 miles away and fooling around and taking pictures but after a while not being able to find out which bus to take, we then got serious and thought of cycling towards the nearest docking station that would bypass the route of the night bus N9 which would eventually take us home.


The Bikes

At first, we were hesitant because none of us had used this service as it was quite new. But, it was night time around 1 am and we had no other choice. A part of it was also the excitement of cycling around London when it was at its quietest, and since it was mid June the weather couldn’t get much better. We decided to cycle towards Trafalgar square using our GPS from our phone and catch the bus from there.



There were exactly 3 cycles on the docking station which was enough for us three but unfortunately one of the station that the cycle was docked in was out of order which meant 1 of us had to walk along the other two whilst they cycled. This, we didn’t know until the third person obtained the code and tried to get the cycle off the dock. Unfortunately it was me who was the unfortunate one to walk because I was very generous of letting the other two to go ahead of me to obtain the hire code from the machine. Of course had I known that one of the cycles was not working then I wouldn’t have been that generous.


The Journey

We then made our way across Tower Bridge and I have to say London never looked this beautiful. It may have been because of the state of tranquillity it was in compared to the busy and noisy London of the day time. The fresh air, the London lights, the magnificent Tower of London and the fact it was night time made the city look even more beautiful. It felt like cycling was the right way to see and feel London. This would beat any other mode of transportation to see London because it was that good and better value than buses, cabs or cars.


After crossing the bridge, we found another docking station and got the other cycle for myself and started cycling through the London roads. We even raced each other and made the most of the quiet roads. The bikes themselves were of a very good standard and easy to ride.


We made our way through Bermondsey, Southwark, Cannon Street, Mansion house and then eventually docked our cycles near Charing Cross and walked towards Trafalgar Square. It took us 45 minutes, but it would have taken us a lot less if we hadn’t got lost due to our poor navigational skills. Partly it was also because we gave up looking at the GPS because of the fun we were having cycling the bike.


We finally got on the bus and that bit of cycling fun had made our night. It was a memorable experience and it is certainly the best way to see London. Getting lost and exploring new places wouldn’t be fun without a bicycle, therefore I highly recommend that you try this Barclays Cycle hire scheme. You don’t have to be a member to use it. All you need is a debit/credit card and you can hire the bikes immediately. Also the good part about this scheme is it is free for the first 30 minutes. You can also register and become a member if you think you’ll be using this service regularly. So, next time you are in London why not try one of these cycles and see London in a new way?


To find out more on Barclays Cycle Hire please visit their website.


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