Cycling is a great way to get around London
It’s fast, it’s low-cost, it’s good for your mental and physical health, and it also can be really fun. Here are our top tips – and enjoy the ride!
Find a bike
- Hire a bike: Currently in London there are shared hire bikes and e-bikes available from Santander Cycles, Lime, Tier, HumanForest, Dott and more. For these you’ll need to sign-up to unlock the bike via apps that also show you where your nearest bike is. You can also access longer-term bike hire through companies like Swapfiets, BuzzBike and Bike Club (for kids bikes).
- Buy a bike:
- From a shop: This bike shop map shows London Cycling Campaign affiliated shops where you can try and purchase bikes. It’s important to get the right size frame, then tweak saddle and handlebar height too. Buy from somewhere you trust, then you’ll be happy taking your bike back for repairs and maintenance later.
- From an individual: Lots of people are choosing to buy second-hand to be more eco-friendly. Here’s what to look out for when buying a preloved bike.
Check your bike is safe
Always check the bike you are on is roadworthy, especially it hasn’t been used for a while. Check our our separate advice page on how to check your bike is safe to ride.
Sort your kit
You don’t need a lot of kit to cycle. It’s possible to spend lot of money but most stuff is definitely not essential and if you are just starting out then probably hire or borrow as much as you can to find what works for you. To get started:
- Bike lights. At night it’s a legal requirement to have two bike lights (white on the front and red on the back).
- Clothing – your everyday clothes will be fine for almost all London journeys! There are no laws about what you have to wear to cycle in the UK. A waterproof coat and gloves will be useful in the winter, and some people choose to wear high-vis (more tips on winter cycling here). If you wear a helmet, check it fits properly.
- Bike locks (if it is your own bike). Make sure your frame and both wheels are secured, and it’s also worth getting your bike security marked and registered – find lots more information on our bike security page.
Plan a good route
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. Check out our separate advice page on planning safe cycle routes.
There’s loads of things to help get you started – check our our separate advice page on building your cycle skills. If you haven’t cycled for a while then start with short journeys on quiet roads to grow your confidence. The free cycle training sessions available from London councils are a great idea for all riders, not just people new to cycling. And try Cycle Buddies to find an experienced local cycling buddy in your area.
- Look‚ signal‚ manoeuvre – 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, and 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 – Ride at least one metre away from parked cars (to allow for doors opening), the gutter (which can be full of drainholes and broken glass) or any other edge of the road space.
- Take the lane – the new Highway Code encourages you to ride in the middle of the road where needed. For example, 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. Try to communicate with any driver behind you with a quick look to show you know they are there and then let them pass when it is safe to do so.
- Be extra careful near lorries – most of the worst cycling collisions involve HGVs. Check out our advice page on how to stay safe around lorries and be extra careful with lorries turning left:
- Lorry drivers often can’t easily see to the left of or immediately in front of their cabs.
- They do not always indicate.
- They often swing right before turning left.
- The gap between the kerb and the lorry will decrease or disappear as it turns.
Follow the rules
It’s a legal requirement to stop at red traffic lights and you should be familiar with the Highway Code. Riding your bike on the pavement is not allowed unless you see a ‘shared-use’ sign allowing it. In any shared space with people walking cycle slow and keep an eye out for people, particularly the young, old or disabled. In busy areas people may walk out into the road without looking, so again slow down and take care.
Ask for help
LCC has been helping people to cycle in and around London for more than 40 years, and we’re here to help you. Check out more advice articles, get in touch with friendly local groups in every London borough or drop us a line.