I was back in London on Friday night catching up with a bunch of old mates and getting ‘well oiled’ in the process [this doesn’t mean operating with efficiency]. Since I last lived in London the ‘Boris Bike’ scheme was launched allowing anyone with a credit card to hire a bike from thousands of different locations around the city. At pub chuck-out time I have vague memories of jabbing my credit card at a one of these machines and trying to read the complicated instructions with my sober eye. My experience of the system is that it’s been sensibly set up to prevent an inebriated clown getting his hands on a bike. Unfortunately, just when I was at the point of giving up and stumbling home I was assisted by somebody returning his bike.
After hearing his advice to stop trying to take the bike with the flat tyres, I set about trying to release a different one using the tricky access code containing a combination of numbers 1, 2 & 3. By shutting my troublesome drunk eye I managed to pass this test just within the strict 20 minute time limit.
And I was away. Up the street. The wrong street.
Eventually I found myself on the right street proving that intuitive drunken navigation skills are superior to any Garmin. Pleased as punch I parked the bike in the hallway and crashed into bed.
The next morning Ms BikeVCar said she could almost hear the pound coins dropping into Transport for London’s bank account as the bike sat in our hallway. I was pretty sure the instructions on the machine had said it was £1 for 24 hours. However this wouldn’t be the first time my drunken optimism had been somewhat misguided. As it turns out, there’s an ‘access fee’ of £1 per 24 hours and then an astronomical half-hourly charge. So the 11 hours it spent in the hallway equated to £50. Ouch. As I tried to pedal through my hangover on Saturday morning looking for a docking station I realised it would’ve been cheaper to have taken a taxi home. In fact it would’ve been cheaper to take 5 taxis home.