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Santander-branded Boris Bikes in London.
© Lee Nichols

Why I love commuting on Boris Bikes in London

Coralie Grassin

We all know cycling in London is kind of stressful. From digesting second-hand carbon monoxide on the way to work to the frustration of dealing with overzealous speedsters dressed for the Tour of Britain, it’s a hard try-not-to-get-yourself-knocked-off life. And yet I love it. There is a particular kindness among Boris Bike users. On the tube, commuters barely look at each other, let alone smile to strangers. But outdoors, docking stations seems to call for a cheerful nod, a quick conversation and off you go, all warmed up inside. We help each other, exchanging tips on the best route to take, for example. 

But despite our good-willed fellowship, London could show us more love. Infrastructure wise, there is so much still to be done. Like special lanes at roundabouts – possibly the most dangerous place for a bike – or elevated highways, bringing dreams of less polluted air and superiority on cars. Some practical help would be nice too. Copenhagen has 'Love Handles' at traffic lights or intersections, a simple tool to hold on to and keep your balance. There are also few free bike pumps in town, right on the street. And I wouldn’t mind a cyclist version of Waze – a fab app allowing drivers to warn others of incidents.

On the subject of dream solutions to make the cycling life more pleasant, I recently learned that the word espresso was meant for a short coffee that you would drink standing, quickly, almost banging the empty cup on the counter and rushing out. This could work for us: special outdoor counters for cyclists to cop a quick caffeine dose, and off you ride again. It would be the equivalent of a pedestrian’s coffee on the go and would give us the strength to face the mountain of flies awaiting our journeys.

How about bike drive-ins? Not like the movie ones, but something more shopping-oriented? You could book your lunch online, stop at a counter and your order would be placed straight in the basket at the front of the bike. Druid St Market is great for that – you can cycle on one side of the stalls without annoying anyone and chat with the vendors. And in the summer, The Food Assembly often sets up their collect point outside a café or a pub and you don’t really have to dismount. Deep down, this newbie cyclist is calling for a revolution across London – and if I have my way, it will be on a Boris Bike.  

Want to join the revolution? Read everything you need to make your way on two wheels. 


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