Read on for our cycling tips and, as a bonus, we’ll tell you about the five best bike rides in London.
Is it safe to cycling in London?
In short, yes. Cycling in London is a great way to see the sights and avoid those crowded, sweaty tube rides on the way to work. If you think London’s way too dangerous to cycle around, we’re going to share some advice with you that will help you stay safe on the city’s roads.
London is fast becoming a bicycle-friendly city. Since 2010 there’s been significant investment in a safe and segregated cycling network across the city. Obviously, it’s a bustling environment, so it’s vital you pay attention when on two wheels.
Cycling in London – the numbers
- 7% increase in cycling in inner London and 22% increase in outer London compared to Spring 2019
- 62% of adults in London who own a bicycle used it more in the last 12 months that in previous years
- 49% of London bicycle owners said they felt safer on the roads in the last 12 months than in previous years
- Daily bicycle hires in 2021 were 5.4% higher than August 2019
How to ride a bike in London – things to remember
If you decide to take the plunge, don your lycra, and get on the pedals, keep your wits about you and follow these simple tips. This is how to cycle in London:
- Signal – make your signals early, correctly, and clearly – and don’t forget to look behind you. Advanced warning will give pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists time to react to your manoeuvres.
- Give room – when you’re riding past stationary vehicles, lorries, and buses, always leave plenty of room. NEVER ride down the left side of a bus or lorry because they can’t see you.
- Pay attention – London has some stunning sights but if you’re on your bike, keep your eyes on the road. If you want to sightsee, get off your bike. Also, don’t wear headphones while cycling – stay focused.
- Helmets – although wearing a cycle helmet isn’t required by law, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Wear one at all times, even if you’re on a Boris bike.
- Leave the pavements for pedestrians – OK, some pavements are marked for cycling use, but not all of them. Check first because if you collide with a pedestrian (regardless of whose fault it was), you’re liable – an excellent reason a) not to cycle on the pavement and b) why cyclists should have bicycle insurance.
- Stay bright – if you’re cycling during the day, make sure you’re wearing bright clothing. You must also have working lights on your bike between sunset and sunrise.
- Know where you’re going – make sure you know your route. Hesitating at junctions will cause you to divert your attention away from other road users. If you use a Garmin (other bike computers are available), upload your route so it can direct you.
Cycling in London Rules
Don’t forget, the rules of the road apply to you just as much as everyone else; that means stopping for red lights and not cycling the wrong way on one-way streets (even if it is a shortcut).
Oh, one last thing, stay calm. Unfortunately, cyclists, in general, are considered pests in lycra to many motorists. Don’t react even if they try to intimidate you. Bite your tongue, and DO NOT POKE THE BEAR. If you do, there’s no telling how the situation will escalate.
London’s best cycling routes
At the start, we promised to tell you about London's five best biking routes for pleasure.
- Limehouse Basin to London Fields (6km) – Taking in a quiet part of Regent’s Canal and passing through three parks: Mile End Park, Victoria Park and London Fields.
- Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace (6km) – An easy-going, flat route along a quiet old disused railway. No cars, no lorries, no taxis, just stunning views from Alexandra Palace at the end.
- The Tower of London to Big Ben (5km) – Biking along the river, you can take in some of London’s most iconic sights. Mainly on a single cycle lane, there are no cars to worry about. You’ll see the Tower of London, The Shard, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the London Eye, and Somerset House, finishing at Big Ben and the Palaces of Westminster.
- Battersea to Kew Gardens – Starting from Big Ben, you head west, passing Tate Britain, Battersea Power Station, and its nearby park. Then you’ll have to get off your bike and walk for a bit, and then it’s on to Fulham Palace and Kew Gardens.
- King’s Cross to Notting Hill (10km) – You’ll head out alongside Regent’s Canal and see the Trellick Tower, Camden Lock, Regent’s Park, and Little Venice. It ends in Notting Hill.
Get out and enjoy London on two wheels
Whether you’re commuting to work or just out enjoying the sights, cycling in London is not as daunting as you think.
If you stick to the rules of the road, pay attention, and plan where you’re going, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy London on two wheels.
Of course, if you want extra peace of mind (especially if you’re a regular city pedaller), it may be wise to consider investing in specialist bicycle insurance.