Thousands of London commuters took to two wheels this morning as the effects of the capital’s Tube strike began to bite. LCC's much vaunted Biketubes (guided rides from London tube station) also took to the road and the same rides will run again tomorrow (Thursday) too.
Although striking members of the RMT union didn’t manage to bring the network to an entire halt, delays and disruptions were enough for commuters to consider other ways of getting to work.
Transport for London (TfL) handed out thousands of commuter cycle routes to help people travel around the capital, as well as laying on extra buses, taxi sharing at major rail stations and free river services.
The London Cycling Campaign’s ‘BikeTube’ idea – in which cyclists were encouraged to meet at various points and cycle as a large group – was also launched this morning. More than 100 people, novice and experienced cyclists, took part in the group rides marshalled by LCC staff and volunteers.
Chief executive Koy Thomson said, "The BikeTubes have been a tremendous success. It was great to see so many people choosing to cycle this morning. We hope a good number of them are inspired to enjoy cycling to work every day."
LCC Community Cycling Officer Rosie Tharp also reckoned that, “The BikeTube rides were a real success. Lots of participants told us they had wanted to get back on their bikes for ages, and the BikeTubes gave them the confidence.”
The Biketubes will be running again tomorrow morning (details below).
The Biketubes may have been a success but there is no getting away from the fact that many Londoners took to their cars and in many places the extra bike-parking facilities(such as the one pictured above at Waterloo Bus Station) were barely used. But rain in London this morning may have dissuaded many from using their bikes. road.cc contributor and blogger, TR cycled from Dalston to Shoreditch and didn't notice much of an increase in cyclists on his route.
"Everyone seemed to be taking the car, not the bike," he said, "so it was absolute chaos. A lot of people were planning to take the bus but they were delayed so there was a huge amount of walking going on.
"It'll be interesting to to see if the BikeTube idea has worked. I would say that a lot of cyclists would take the most direct route to work, and not go out of their way to join a big group of people who were cycling the route of a Tube line."
Mayor Boris Johnson described the strike action as "absolutely crazy" as he joined passengers on a Thames boat to Canary Wharf.
RMT leader Bob Crow insisted the strike was "solid" but trains still ran on the Victoria line, despite manning a picket line himself at Seven Sisters.
Just one fifth of the normal number of trains were in operation, but services ran on nine out of the 11 lines with just the Circle and Waterloo and City totally suspended.
The chaos is expected to last until Friday.
Bikestubes will be running once again from
Meeting point 7:45 am @ Brixton – Oval – Elephant and Castle – Blackfriars - Holborn
Meeting point 7:45am @ Finsbury Park main gate route – Arsenal - Highbury and Islington – Angel – Moorgate – Mansion House – London Bridge – City Hall
Meeting point 7:45am @ Mile End Green Bridge route – Stepney Green – Cable Street – Tower Hill – Bank
Meeting point 7:45am @ Ravens Court Park route – Hammersmith – High Street Kensington – Hyde Park Corner – Charing Cross – Trafalgar Square
Meeting point 7:45am @ Swiss Cottage route – Hampstead – Belsize Park – Chalk Farm – Mornington Crescent – Euston – Gower Street – Tavistock Place – Gray’s Inn Road – Clerkenwell – Farringdon - Moorgate
* Did you cycle to work this morning? Did you join a BikeTube? Post a comment and tell us about it! or let us know via Twitter @road.cc