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LCC has been helping people to cycle for more than 40 years and we’re here to help you.

Top Tips for getting back on the bike

Cycling is great way to get around London and explore its many neighbourhood and communities. It’s good for your mental and physical health and an easy way to incorporate activity into your day. This advice page is for people that have cycled before – if you are new to cycling or haven’t cycled for a long time then check out our ‘advice for new cyclists

If you haven’t cycled for a while then start with short journeys on quiet roads and build up your skills and confidence. And always make sure your bike is safe and roadworthy. But most of all enjoy the ride.

Cycle safely and confidently
  • Look‚ signal‚ maneuver – Before making any move on the road‚ look around and over your shoulder, then make a hand signal to let people know where you are going.
  • Eye contact – Look drivers, pedestrians, other cyclists in the eye‚ rather than just at their vehicle. That way, they will see you as a person too.
  • Keep away from the kerb – Try and ride at least 1 metre away from parked cars (to allow for doors opening), the gutter (which can be in a vehicle’s blind spot) or any other edge of the road space.
  • Take the lane – If there’s not enough space for a vehicle to overtake you safely‚ or you’re approaching a side street, ride in the middle of the lane to prevent vehicles passing you in that lane and turning across you. Try to communicate with any driver behind you with a quick look to let them know you know they are there and then let them pass when it is safe to do so.

Doing a short two hour cycle training session to improve bike handling skills is a great idea for all riders, not just people new to cycling – see our page on cycle skills.

Follow the rules

It’s a legal requirement to stop at red traffic lights as well as have reflectors and two bike lights at night (white on front and red on back). If you break these laws you are potentially putting yourself and others in danger, and can be fined. You should be familiar with the Highway Code. Riding your bike on the pavement is not allowed in the UK unless you see a sign allowing it. If you are cycling on a space shared with pedestrians‚ drop your pace and keep an eye out for people walking.

Make sure your bike is safe

You should make sure your bike is safe and roadworthy, especially if you have not used it for a while. Check your tyres are pumped up and your brakes work. If you are unsure take your bike to a bike shop to get it checked over. For more tips check out our advice on maintenance.

Prevent your bike getting stolen

Always lock your bike up to something secure – dedicated cycle parking in busy areas is the best thing to use and there is lots across London. You will need to make sure your frame and both wheels are secured and locked with s decent lock. It’s also worth getting your bike security marked and registered and considering theft insurance –more information on our bike security page.

Plan safe cycle routes

There’s an increasingly large network of safe and pleasant cycling routes in London using cycleways, bike lanes (many built thanks to LCC campaigning) and quiet back routes that keep you away from busy motor traffic. For tips on how to plan safe cycle routes go here .

Cycle safely around lorries

Be extra careful cycling near large lorries –most of the worst collisions involve these vehicles. Be extra aware of left turning lorries:

  • They do not always indicate
  • They often swing right before turning left
  • The gap between a lorry and the kerb will decrease or disappear as it turns
  • And lorry drivers often can’t see the left of or immediately in front of their cabs easily creating a risk zone for cyclists
If you don’t have your own bike borrow, buy or hire one

If you don’t currently own a bike, you’ll need to buy or hire one. Our membership page lists online and retail shops where you can try and buy bikes. It’s important to get the right size frame, then tweak saddle height, handlebar set-up too. We recommend buying from somewhere you trust, and where you’ll be happy taking your bike back for repairs and maintenance later. Or, there’s shared hire bikes from Santander/TfL, Lime, Jump etc. You’ll need to sign-up to unlock the bike via apps that also show you where your nearest bike is. But in the current crisis, wipe down grips and anywhere else you need to put your hands before and after use, please! And follow the latest government advice about going to shops.

Do I need a cycle helmet?

It’s not compulsory to wear a helmet‚ but if you choose to wear one‚ make sure it’s the right size and the strap under the chin is a close comfortable fit.

Do I need to buy special cycling clothes and kit?

There are no laws about what you have to wear to cycle in the UK. Some people choose to wear high visibility clothing. Reflective materials (rather than bright colours) are the most effective at night. You should wear what you feel comfortable in – there is no need to buy any special kit for short cycle journeys. However, it’s advisable to have a waterproof jacket with you‚ given the unpredictable weather! And for longer rides, many people find shorts with a “chamois” in far more comfy than jeans!

Considerate cycling

Make sure you look out for pedestrians and other cyclists especially the young, old or disabled. In busy areas pedestrians may walk out without looking, so just slow down and be aware of other road users. Give everybody plenty of space and time to cross the road at crossings.If you want help with getting going cycling, you can sign up to our free Cycle Buddies scheme. We’ll introduce you to an experienced cyclist in your area who will be happy to help you plan your journey and ride it with you – whether it is to the shops, to work or just to the park for a bit of practice.

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LCC is highly effective because it's supported by more than 10,000 members. If you cycle in London please consider joining today. You'll be supporting our work and you'll get a huge range of benefits too.


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