Barclays Cycle Hire bikes. You’ve seen them around town, at tube stations and tourist attractions, ridden by everyone from the professional business women to the London tourist.
Nearly 20 million journeys have been made on the ubiquitous blue bikes, best known by Londoners as ‘Boris Bikes’, since the scheme launched in 2010.
The attraction is easy to see. No need to lug around lights and locks, no pumping up tyres and cleaning the chain. Just hop on and go. However before setting off, there are always things you can do to make the journey a little smoother, a little safer, and a whole lot more stylish.
Reflecting on things
Although the bikes have lights already attached, a little bit more visibility never goes amiss, especially in the bright lights of London town. These bows are made from a combination of ribbon and reflective tape. They can be attached onto helmets, bags and baskets with a simple adjustable Velcro strap. Available in lots of different colours, they manage to combine being a safety product without looking like you work a side-line as a lollipop lady. They would probably work well in clubs too.
If you want to up your high-vis credentials even more, pair your bow with a Miss Bobbin reflective sash. It rolls up small enough to pop in your bag and slips on over the top of your coat or jacket. There are even reflective pin badges if you want to go the whole hog.
Skirts are great, whether they are short, long, fitted or flared. Skirts on a bicycle however can be a recipe for inadvertent-knicker-flashing disaster. Pop a pair of leggings on and you can ride safe in the knowledge that the colour of your pants remains known only to yourself.
Plain black ones are as widely available as Boris Bikes, or style it up with some on-trend patterns and prints. Mermaid leggings, anyone?
Gone are the days when donning a helmet meant placing what looked like a plastic mushroom in horrific colours on your head. These days, there are so many colours, patterns and styles to choose from, there is bound to be one to appeal.
Bern produce helmets in a rainbow of colours, and with interchangeable liners you can add ear flaps for extra warmth on cold winter jaunts. A lot of them are also useful for winter sports, so your helmet can do extra duty protecting your head when out on the pistes.
Bobbin Bicycles have helmets in metallic silver and gold, if you feel like recapturing the Olympic spirit of last year.
Ride and park
Last but not least, finding a space to deposit your Boris Bike once you’re done can be tricky, especially in busy parts of London. Luckily, there are helpful apps at hand to highlight where your nearest docking station is and how many spaces are available. Some of them even help you plot your route. The London Cycle App (iPhone) and the Cycle Hire Widget (Android) are both highly rated.