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One of the best ways to see a large city is on a bicycle.  For someone with my level of fitness, this means taking a bike onto a train then spending the day exploring, remembering of course to take regular breaks.  It was the last day before Ramadan so I had to take my chance despite the forecasted wet weather.

London back in the eighties was not the best place to ride a bike, it was too smokey for a start! It’s changed a lot since then, and whilst it’s not the most cycle-friendly city, once you’re in the right places: parks, bus lanes and side roads, it’s a real pleasure.

If you get to the parks early enough in the morning, you will have the whole area to yourself, sharing it occasionally with another cyclist or jogger.  It’s hard to imagine that you’re in one of the busiest cities i the world, when you’re riding through beautiful and long tree-lined lanes.

The convenience of having your bike magically appear in the city is now available to all, via the new Barclays bike hire scheme.  I can’t believe it’s taken this long for London to introduce them.  I used them in Copenhagen in 1997!  The fact that they’re here however, means more and more cycle lanes will be available and drivers will naturally become more vigilant of their two-wheeled fellows.  This should address the only concern left for riders, namely safety.

Back to photography… I love using a bike to explore a city because of the vast area you can cover, the relative ease with which you can stop, and the flexibility it provides you to wait when necessary.  You can stop virtually anywhere and for as long as you need at zero cost and almost without inconvenience.

One of my favourite lessons in photography is the waiting involved in getting the perfect shot.  For the image below, I was standing next to my bike taking shot after shot – until I finally got the birds in focus.

Because there is no rush to get to the car before the meter runs out, or to catch a bus to the next location, you own your time.  I spent a little more time in the area near London Eye, and was rewarded with the sight of the boat pulling the containers.  I moved on to capture more of London.

With time on my side, I was able to make small discoveries that I would have otherwise missed.  The colourful Buxton Memorial has been here for years but it was the first time I had ever noticed it.

The weather cleared up so I decided to head home without the train.  I cycled west to Battersea Power Station.  The plan was to continue to Fulham, Hammersmith then home to Ealing.

The weather had other plans and it started raining heavily.  I took a break at a lovely little restaurant in Chelsea.  The wood of the old furniture inside looked nice and dry – just the remedy for my wet clothes and camera bag.  I took a lunch break waiting for the rain to ease.

This was the view when I came back.  It got even more wet so I looked for the nearest train station – where I joined a few other ‘lazy’ cyclists.

I took the train and cycled the last two miles under heavy rain, which was not much fun. My day ended with another surprise discovery.  The flyover in the distance is the M4 elevated section over the Chishwick Roundabout.  When I lived in London, this was the start and finish of my daily commute to work.  I never knew – and probably would never have known – that Jayne Mansfield woz ere in 1959.

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25 Comments

  1. Great post. This is exactly why most of my photographs have been accessed via bike! Great idea to include your bike in many of the shots! Great shots, too!

  2. Great shots! And what a good idea with the bike. Thank you for showing me London. I’ve never been there but seeing your photos allow me to view the city.

    • Thank you. I hope you get to go one day. London is a great city!

    • Summer
    • Posted 20 August 2010 at 9:38 pm
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    nice pictures!1

    • Um Yousef
    • Posted 20 August 2010 at 9:43 pm
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    Great shots and very interesting commentary :)

    • Q80BOY
    • Posted 20 August 2010 at 11:13 pm
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    great as always! ;)

    Barcelona has a similar service for bike rentals as well .. but yeah London introduced them recently. We have them in Kuwait btw .. in Khairan lol :P

  3. I’ve been seeing these everywhere in London and am planning to rent a bike and riding around after I finish my course… nice pics

    • Enjoy. Watch out on the roads (stick to the parks if you can).

    • Amu
    • Posted 21 August 2010 at 4:07 pm
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    Beautiful post and pics…

  4. Nice place and great pictures as usual

    • Polar Panda
    • Posted 22 August 2010 at 3:59 pm
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    Nice! Hope you can rent helmet…

    • Mathai
    • Posted 22 August 2010 at 8:13 pm
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    This is a great post BuYousef! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and photos. I love photos # 4, 7, 10 and 15! :)

    • Thank you, Matthew. Mine are the 1st and 3rd :)

  5. great post and excellent pictures. thank you for sharing it with us.

  6. Amazing shots Bu Yousef as usual! Love the phone booth shot! Ur right waiting is the game, but that bird shot was amazing!

    Your shots make me want to go to London and walk around! I tend to walk around a lot while in London, getting the right gear together and heading out!

  7. Amazing scenes and wonderful shots!
    Really, thanks for sharing such experience with us ya Bu Yousef :-)

  8. oh, lovely pictures! actually made me relate to scenes i’ve read years back,in Enid Blyton’s; children going on an adventure oh-so-many times in their bikes!! :)


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