A Beginner’s Guide To Biking In London

Reasons to be cycling, part 3

Cycling to work is real joy, it takes almost exactly the same time every day, no matter how bad the traffic or the weather is. It’s a great way to stretch your legs, raise your heart rate and mentally prepare for the day ahead. It’s pretty great stress reliever on the way home too!

It’s also the fastest and cheapest way to get around town, most people who come to buy a bicycle ‘just for short weekend trips’ come back a few months later with a twinkle in their eye having made the leap to commuting everywhere by bike.

If you haven’t cycled in a long time, start small. Plan a trip to a museum, park (or pub) and grab some hire bikes. Take your time, stop whenever you feel like it and have a lovely time.

If you want to start to commute to work, have a few dry runs in the evening or on the weekend when the roads are calmer, you’ll get to learn your route without the pressure of having to get to the office on time and maybe even find a shortcut or cycle paths to help you get there.

The main thing to remember is that cycling is now an established form of transport on the roads and as the numbers grow it keeps getting safer and safer. So get out there and start riding, you won’t look back.

  1. Take your time and build up your confidence with short, fun weekend ride to get used to your bike and London’s roads.

  2. Practice the route to work when the streets are quiet to get yourself familiar with it - there is nothing worse than running late and getting lost all at the same time!

  3. Study the map, there are usually quieter and more scenic routes to take, often through parks and towpaths where cars aren’t allowed.

  4. Don’t panic, the great thing about a bike is that you can always get off and push if you don’t feel confident enough to tackle a difficult part of your journey.

  5. Don’t rush, take your time, give lorries loads of room and smile at everyone you pass. Compared to being crammed on the tube or stuck in traffic it is the most enjoyable way to navigate the city.

  6. Get a decent lock, nothing too fancy but at least “silver rated”.

  7. Pump your tyres every two to three weeks - they lose air naturally (like an old birthday balloon). This helps prevent punctures and helps keep the bike efficient. If you don’t have a pump, any bike shop worth a visit will let you use theirs for free.

  8. Riding up and down curbs will murder your wheels.

  9. Have a spare set of clothes at work, you will get unlucky with the weather sometimes

  10. Cycling is fun, keep your cool and don’t let the tiny minority of shouty drivers get to you, they are just jealous.