Wednesday, December 29, 2010

London Bikes

Medieval street planning makes for interesting pathways among modern bikers in London. Certainly Romans did not consider the potential for collisions with cars when they laid down their streets. Those 14th century twists and turns also left me rather leery of renting a bike here, although I didn't have the time to do so in any case. But as I walked and bussed around town with my family I had many opportunities to see dozens and dozens of cyclists and just as many bikes chained and locked everywhere. This is no surprise of course given that I not in car-centric America, and Britain had been pushing bike commuting already as a further traffic solution to its jam-packed island.

And the city center was packed, especially at train stations. The busy rush of thousands of commuters and travelers herding themselves to different platforms, shoulder to shoulder, pulsed with noisy energy. Amid them one bicyclist stood out, his bike's wheels breaking the geometry of the crowd at King's Cross. This biker was having a heck of time with his bag, soft drink, pack and bicycle! 
Throughout our walks I saw many styles of bikes, including this whitewashed classic with matching seat and dynamo. Will it's contrast with London grays make it more likely to get ripped off? Or, is it too unique to permit an easy getaway?
Topping off all the cycling lanes and related sign-age in London is its bike sharing program, undoubtedly sponsored by a bank. Methinks the cycling culture and bankers are an unlikely pairing but these bike stands are omnipresent. I needed an account to rent one of these, which I saw many times over the four days we spent in town. Most of the time the bikes, like leaves missing from a winter limb, were being used (hopefully rented and not stolen). The rental program is complemented by steep fees to drive cars in the city during business hours.

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