London Alternative travel

Avoiding the Tube: 5 Alternative Ways to Navigate London

Liam, full-time content editor at WeSwap and part-time armchair transport critic, on alternative ways to travel around the capital.

As temperatures soared this week, London and its inhabitants almost melted into an apocalypse: Our feet glued themselves to the pavement, our food went gooey and we got all hot, bothered and angry.

Aaaaaaaand, to fuel the fire further, the Evening Standard reported that 35-degree tube temperatures were actually 5 degrees higher than the maximum allowed to transport cattle. Holy cow.

Time to take a look at some alternative transport, then…

Boris Bikes

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson rides a bicycle during the announcement of Santander as the new sponsor of Santander Cycles in Central London

It was ex, ex London Mayor Ken Livingston who announced plans to implement a cycle-hire scheme back in 2007. Unfortunately for Ken, Boris Johnson was in charge for their 2010 launch. Even more unfortunately for Ken, Boris and bike begin with the same letter.

Oddly, Boris Bikes are as popular with frantic City professionals (they turn a 5 minute power-walk into a one-minute cycle) as they are with tourists (everything is more fun on a bike). They weigh a hefty 23kg (Bradley Wiggins’ Tour winning bike weighed around 7kg) and boast similar aerodynamics to BoJo himself.

Santander took over sponsorship from Barclays last April so the once-familiar blue bike has been replaced by a red one. Ken/Labour will be pleased.

“If anyone still persists in calling them Boris Bikes rather than Santander [Bikes] I will change my name to Santander Johnson.” The former mayor said.

BORIS BIKES, BORIS BIKES, BORIS BIKES!

Uber 

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My old Renault Clio claimed to have air conditioning. My grandma also claimed she ran for Great Britain in the 1916 Olympic Games. There were no Olympics in 1916.

Luckily mod-cons have improved since 2005, and WW1 is also over. The point is, times move on – technologies progress.

So when trying to get to the other side of town – the Tube isn’t an option remember – we can trust that the inside of an automobile can be relied on to keep you cool. As well as being cheaper than black cabs, Uber doesn’t require you to stand on the side of the street flapping your arms around getting sweaty.

Thames Boats

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Given the cattle-like conditions on the tube, why not head to the water like a heard of buffalo?

The Thames Clippers run speedy and regular services from commuter hubs include Canary Warf, Tower Hill and London Bridge.

Effectively you can cut through London in an efficient yet breezy sort of way. A bit like James Bond.

There is free Wi-Fi to catch up on emails, a restaurant to grab a tea/coffee and eye candy such as the Tower of London, The London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral to watch from the deck. Close your eyes and you could be crusing the French Rivera.

Rickshaws

Like the Boris Bike, Rickshaws were also named after the man who oversaw their inception.Bicycles and Pedicabs in Old Compton Street.

In 1988 Rik Shaw moved his family from their humble base in Barnsley and, with a tinge of Dickensian romance, they have never looked back.

Unfortunately that didn’t really happen, but it sounded good didn’t it?

Rickshaws, or pedicabs as they are sometimes known, are popular with smarmy theatre goers likely to either burst into song or burst from vanilla Häagen-Dazs.

But Rickshaws operate in the day too and if you’re loitering around the West End in a sun-fuelled daze, they can be a novel way to get from A to B. And unlike a taxi, bus, train or even a Thames boat, you will be leaving no carbon footprint whatsoever.


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3 Comments

    1. London tubes & buses are busy busy during rush hours-ONLY!! like most cities the world over- do not let the hype put you off
      I am retired & still using tubes during rush hours-

    2. You’re right Mikey – there is nothing wrong with the tube… it can get a bit hot and sticky in the summer months though so thought we’d look at some alternatives. Everyone should take a rickshaw ride through Shoho on a busy evening. It’s crazy.

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