If you’ve come to London without a car, or even if you just want to use one less, cycling is a great way to get around the city. A lot of Londoners use a bike as their main wheels, including during the winter, and even more seek fun and fitness in bike rides on our extensive network of pathways. Here’s some insider information to give you a headstart on cycling in London.
COMMUTE BY BIKE
Getting to work by bike is becoming a better option all the time in London. It also pairs well with using public transit since all city buses are equipped with easy-to-use bike racks. Here are a few things you should know:
The Thames Valley Parkway (usually called “the TVP” by locals) is a 40-kilometre paved cycling and multi-use path that spans the city, and is still being expanded and improved. It’s used by many commuters, but it’s beautiful scenery makes it a popular recreational route as well. The TVP is maintained throughout the winter, but may not always be clear of snow.
Cycling Infrastructure in London is a bit eclectic. In addition to the TVP, the city has a combination of different types of bike paths and shared lanes on its roadways. Children under fourteen can ride bikes on sidewalks in London, but all other cyclists should use designated paths or vehicle lanes. You can find more information about bike lanes in London on the city’s website.
Seeing and Navigating the Bike Network, fortunately, has never been easier. The City of London’s Bike & Walk Map and online CityMap both allow you to see where different kinds of bike paths are located in the city. Google Maps also provides detailed cycling directions using the TVP and other bike paths where possible.
PARK YOUR BIKE
A growing number of London’s employers provide secure parking for their employees, but you’ll probably still need to use public parking sometimes. There are a variety of bike lockups along city streets, and here are a few of the best places to park your bike in central London:
- Large bike corrals at Central Library and in the Old East Village are available in the summer, taking the place of one on-street car parking spot each
- Bike parking at the VIA Rail Station on York Street is well-placed to be relatively secure while you’re taking the train out of town for the day
- Covent Garden Market offers bike parking both outside and in its parking garage, all of which is in high-traffic areas, so it’s relatively secure while you’re downtown.
Bike Fix-It Stations are located in three places around the city (Crouch Library, Tuckey Home Hardware, and Storybook Gardens) with a fourth on the way this summer. They allow you to hang your bike up and use the attached air pump and tools to make simple repairs and adjustments while you’re out cycling.
Borrow a Bike Lock from the London Public Library. All of the branches throughout the city can loan you a lock for use while you’re perusing the stacks!
BE PART OF LONDON’S CYCLING COMMUNITY
Organizations like London CycleLink and CAN-BIKE London can help you get properly outfitted, up to speed on local cycling rules, and connected with other cyclists. They also hold regular events and rides throughout the year, so follow them or sign up for their newsletters—you’ll find cycling through London is a unique way to get to know the city, no matter how long you’ve lived here.
There’s also a growing number of establishments that cater to London’s cycling community. The Squeaky Wheel Bike Co-op is an evolving, volunteer-run shop in the Old East Village where members can do self-serve repairs, purchase new and used parts, and attend workshops and events. Downtown, the Bicycle Café provides bike service and repairs, as well as products, plus Canadian-roasted coffee for a double-whammy of awesomeness!
You can meet lots of these folks at the London Celebrates Cycling, a five-day public festival happening later this month. It includes bike tours and rides, a community breakfast, and a full-day Bicycle Expo at Boler Mountain on Saturday, June 25th. If you’ve been curious about cycling in London, you’ll find everything you need to know there!
Whether you’re looking to get involved with a group of great Londoners or you just want to get to work while staying in shape, I hope this helps you enjoy cycling the city!