London! Boris Bikes, Reader Pints & Sunday Lunch

Bonjour! Dottie and I are blogging from our Paris hotel room. But we couldn’t wait to talk a little bit about London, where we shared Sunday evening pints at The Harp with delightfully witty and friendly readers Fred & Liz. Both are native(ish) Londoners, so they gave us a local take on cycling in the city. Apparently there are vast differences between the boroughs when it comes to infrastructure—and cycling gets better the further east in London you go. The money savings on transport here is huge: one way on the tube costs 2 pounds, so choosing to bike gets you more than freedom from the crowded tube.

Fred, Dottie, Liz & me

Also exciting: how we got there!

The bike rental system was about as easy to figure out as any bike rental system we’ve used in the past. Hardest part was getting the bikes free from the kiosk, really! And of course it was virtually free: one pound for a one-day pass, and the first 30 minutes of each rental is free. Our first stop was here: For this

Equal parts delight and intimidation in that expression, don’t you think?

Then we got back on the bikes for a ride around St. Paul’s before heading to the Harp.

The ride was pretty relaxing for the most part, beginning on quiet streets with well-designed bike lanes.  After a couple of miles, we ended up on The Strand for a few blocks with approximately half a million double-decker buses. That’s when we dismounted and walked our bikes on the sidewalk.

Obviously, we didn’t conduct a complete tour of London by bike, but our brief experience felt very different from our experience as cycling tourists in Paris, where many of the main through-roads seemed to have infrastructure for cyclists.

London felt more like Nashville in the sense that big roads are the worst for cycling—but when you’re in a city you aren’t familiar with that is not set up on a grid, it’s pretty difficult to navigate using smaller streets that would require frequent turns, even when you have a Moleskin City Guide map strapped in front of you.  :-)  If London wants to make cycling more appealing for tourists—especially those who are not used to bicycling in a big city—it should make the major boulevards more bike friendly.

We’re looking forward to using the Velib today, which we greatly enjoyed during our last trip to Paris.  A tout a l’heure!

  • http://www.anniebikes.blogspot.com anniebikes

    I saw lots of locals on the Velibs when I was there in September. I hope it all goes well. Have a grand time!

  • nicolas

    Enjoy Paris! Sorry about the weather. Check out the Hopper exhibit at the Grand Palais!

  • http://twitter.com/liz545 Liz Almond

    It was lovely to meet you both – have a great time in Paris and Amsterdam, and don’t miss the speculoos paste/cookie butter!

    • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

      It was so great to meet you, too, Liz! We consumed much speculoos whilst in Amsterdam. :)

  • Scott

    Great pictures Trish and Dottie! Glad you got off your bikes on the Strand, London is so busy, we seem to be a little short of space there. Enjoy Paris, (great food heh?) and if the weather is good check out the Vondel Park in Amsterdam, decent cafe’s on the town side.

  • Ham

    The last time I was in Paris, I go t up early leaving my wife in bed and spent a couple of hours cycling around on the Velib. My technique was to pick a random cycle commuter and follow them – it took me to some interesting places and was great fun.

  • http://twitter.com/SimplyBike Simply Bike

    Looks like your trip is off to a great start! Looking forward to more Velib photos and tales and more vicarious vacationing through the two of you. :)

  • Teresa Wagoner

    You guys look so happy and stylish, Bon Voyage! PS Where did Dottie get that fabulous red trench coat?

  • ladyfleur

    I’m so jealous. When we were in London we couldn’t use the Boris bikes because we didn’t have a credit card with the smart chip. How did you guys get around that issue?

    • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

      I (Trisha) have a card with a chip — Chase makes them available in the US. They don’t have a foreign transaction fee either!

  • Sarah W.

    So cool! How is biking on the left side of the street?

    • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

      It was OK until we had to turn right…which we tried to avoid as much as possible! :)

      • Sarah W.

        Heehee! I got a bike safety book from the Nashville library that was published in the UK. All the diagrams were for biking on the left and there were roundabouts and other quirky UK road configurations–might have been handy for y’all!

  • welshcyclist

    Well, it certainly is fantastic to see the two beautiful LGRAB girls so close to my home turf ( Wales ), I don’t suppose you’ll ever make it to here. Great photo of you both in the pub, looking as gorgeous as ever, sorry if that’s not PC, but I can’t help myself. I’ve never cycled in London, but I’ve cycled in Belfast, which was great, and never in my home capital city of Cardiff. Swansea is closer to home for me, where there are some really good coastal cycleways. Hope you make it to Wales in the near future, you won’t regret it. Cheers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.voyercaravona Karen Voyer-Caravona

    I can’t wait to catch the rest of these travel posts. Boy do I need a vacation!

  • bikebelle

    lovely seeing you here! I love Boris Bikes, too :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36906757 Fred Smith

    Hi guys, it was great to see you at the Harp!

    I hope your trip around Europe has been good. I was hoping that London cycling would come out a bit better in the comparisons, although it just doesn’t compare to the cycling bliss of the Netherlands.
    Whenever you’re back in the UK let me know. Someone was telling me how great Chicago is… so maybe I’ll go there some time!

    Fred

    • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

      Thanks so much for coming out and drinking with us, Fred. If you visit Chicago, please let me know and we can meet up for some biking!

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