Cycling is unbelievably powerful way to experience a city. Even a place like London is small enough that you can cycle between the main sites with minimal expense and time. It’s better than public transport because you can hop on and off your bicycle so easily. It’s better than walking because you can get around faster even than the busses, given how bad the traffic usually is. It is eco friendly, good for you, and fun; what more reason do you need to hop into the saddle and experience the city?
In spite of cycling’s many advantages, it has only been slowly adopted in most cities. This is mainly because buying a bike is unfortunately quite costly, especially when you are unsure how often you are going use it. Enter Santander and the unbelievably useful network of bike racks that have been erected across the city. All across London, roughly within Zones 1 and 2 as per the Tube map, are racks of bicycles available for hire. All you need to do is step out the door of the Montcalm at brewery London city where you are staying, and go to the nearest bike rack (usually only a minute away), hope on and ride. It’s the ultimate way to explore London.
Paths and Plans
The biggest obstacle to cycling all over London is of course the traffic and the relative scarcity of bike paths that let you escape the huge busses and fast cabs. While plenty of people do in fact cycle on the main streets in amongst the traffic, it is pretty intimidating for the new cyclists.There are a lot of good options if you are nervous though, all along the Thames there are nice paths for cycling, the canals provide a very pretty route around the worst of the city traffic and up into North London, and of course the extensive network of parks makes for some incredibly lovely places to ride. With some foresight you can go a long way on your bike without having to deal with too much heavy traffic, particularly if you head east or west.
Fortunately for people wanting to go North or South there are big plans underway to greatly expand London’s network of bicycle lanes. The London Cycling Campaign is a charitable company set up to run campaigns for more bike paths. They have seen considerable success by pushing their cause at the borough level and already there are big changes proceeding.London has long been held back by the incredible volume of traffic it has to deal with; we may finally be seeing that start to change in favour of a more pedestrian and bicycle focussed city.
As I’ve alluded to above, there are still quite a few dangers you need to watch out for when cycling. The main problem is simply that the city has only recently embraced cyclists and many drivers are still getting used to seeing bicycles on the roads. You don’t have to worry too much as the traffic in London tends to move slowly, but it pays to be cautious and investing in a helmet is not a bad idea. There is a lot of fun to be had out there on a bike and it is generally pretty safe, as long as you are careful and stay aware of your surroundings you will have a great time.