- 11:52, 30 JUN 2019
It’s really changed my mind about cycling in London, writes Lucy Skoulding
I had what felt like a very authentic London experience last week.
It was the last day of the working week for me and I was eager to head home and get my weekend started.
What could possibly get in the way?
The Tube, that’s what.
I chose to get the Circle Line from Monument because it’s much nicer than being a sardine on the Central Line, my other route home, and I figured I didn’t mind my journey being five to ten minutes longer. I had a good podcast to listen to.
The journey didn’t get off to a fantastic start and I had to wait about eight minutes for my Tube to turn up. It doesn’t sound like long but for the Underground in rush hour, eight minutes is a lifetime.
Still I continue on, not phased at this point. The Tube eventually turns up and I actually get a seat. Winning.
I was clearly lured into a false sense of security because soon the real trouble started.
At the very next stop, Cannon Street, the Tube comes to a halt and stays there for longer than usual. People start looking around, annoyed, searching for an answer as to why the train hadn’t pulled out of the station yet.
Then the dreaded overhead voice comes and the driver tells us there are delays on the line. He says we will be held at the station for a while, and that’s about all we get.
I’m not ready to get off just yet so I continue listening to my podcast and try to block out the chaos of more and more people piling onto the train just because it’s on the platform and they can.
Eventually, after what I think was around seven minutes the train gets going again and I think things aren’t too bad, I will still be home in not too long.
Then we arrive at the next station, Mansion House, and guess what? The train stops again. The driver’s unwelcome voice fills my ears and tells me no useful information, just that there are delays.
I start to consider my options. Unfortunately, now that I have started on this route, I don’t have many. Mansion House has no interchange (apart from the District Line but that’s following the same route). I could get out and walk back to Bank but that seems so ridiculous when I’ve already spent half an hour getting this line to avoid Bank.
Then I spot my golden ticket
I stay on for the next seven minute interval and the train starts up again. I continue wondering what to do.
As predicted the train stops again at the third stop, Blackfriars. I look at my watch and realise I would have been home by now if I’d gone another way. The thought of that fuels me to make a wild decision. I get up, walk off the train, and exit the train station. I am gratefully above ground again, though I still have no idea how to get home. I just knew I couldn’t stay on that train.
Then I spot it, my golden ticket. Glowing bright red in the sunlight, it is my hero. A Santander Cycle.
I have known the Cycle Superhighway was a route home for me since I started this job. It literally goes from outside my office all the way to Lancaster Gate, close to where I live. Yet I’ve been avoiding giving it a go because it seems like it would take a very long time and cycling with bags presents challenges too.
Yet now was a different story. I wanted to avoid public transport at least for the rest of that day and I felt motivated to go for it. I just ignored the fact I was wearing slip on shoes and a skirt and had a massively heavy bag.
Using the Santander Cycles
- Find a docking station terminal and use a debit or credit card to hire a bike. You can take out up to four at once.
- Once you’ve taken the bike out, you can access any Santander cycle for no extra money for the next 24 hours.
- However, each journey can only be 30 minutes long. If you go longer than that without docking the bike back in a station, you will be charged an extra £2 per half hour. If your journey will take longer just find a docking station, return the bike, get out a new code for free, and continue your journey.
- If you want to hire a bike regularly you can consider paying £90 a year for full access any time you want.
I have to say, it was great.
I collected my bike for £2 and started on the superhighway just before Temple station. In total, the journey took me about 40 minutes, but I was going pretty slowly, trying to navigate which direction to go in, and definitely wasn’t wearing the right clothes.