Cycling In London Guide: 17 Tips To Safely Navigate London By Bike

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London is intimidating for many reasons, especially for cyclists. If you are new to cycling in London, you may feel vulnerable navigating the busy city streets.

Cycling in London doesn’t have to be stressful. Of course, there are roads that are best avoided, but with a bit of education and preparation, you can safely ride around London.

In this article, we will be covering:

  • Is Cycling In London Dangerous?
  • What Are The Benefits Of Cycling In London?
  • Our 17 Top Tips For Safe Cycling In London

Are you ready to learn how to get the most from cycling in London?

Let’s get into it!

Is Cycling In London Dangerous?

If you are based in London, you’ll know that cycling is one of the best ways to get around. However, you may have heard some horrendous stories about cycling in London that are off-putting.

Cycling in London

There is always a risk no matter where you ride your bike, but the risk is indeed greater in large cities like London.

But statistically, cycling in London is actually pretty safe!

Though cycling in London has a higher number of incidents, the enforced 20 mph speed limits across the city result in a low fatality rate. You just need to be more vigilant when cycling in London to stay safe.

What Is It Like Cycling In London?

Cycling in London is an excellent way of reducing your transport costs and is preferable to joining the sweaty crowds on the Tube. It is also great for your fitness, along with other benefits

Getting around London by bike is also pretty easy. It has very few hills, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble cycling in London even if you are not particularly fit.

London is also making cycling more accessible and safer, thanks to the creation of new lanes and segregated routes. 

Our 17 Top Tips For Safe Cycling In London

#1: Plan Your Route

Before you head out on your bike, check out your route options. Try to plan a route that doesn’t use a main roadway. It is best to stick to quiet roads or canal towpaths.

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Transport For London has a handy route planner to help you find the safest and fastest routes when cycling in London.

#2: Always Have Bike Lights

Whenever you ride your bike in low light conditions or poor visibility, you are required by law to ride with lights. Your lights should be on both the front and rear of your bike.

#3: Make Sure Your Bike Is Fit To Ride

If you haven’t ridden your bike for a while, it is a good idea to check out its condition.

Pump up the tires, check the brakes and lube the chain. For longer rides you should also carry some essential tools, such as a pump and tire levers, so you can change a punctured inner tube. A multitool is an excellent item to carry, as it allows you to fix a surprising number of mechanical issues.

#4: Look Well Ahead

Keep your head up and your eyes on the road at all times when cycling in London. The streets are littered with drains, potholes, and pedestrians, so looking well ahead will give you time to avoid them.

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Also, planning ahead prepares you for junctions, traffic lights, and roundabouts. You should also look behind you regularly to know what is coming to react accordingly.

#5: Keep Your Fingers On Your Brakes

London is full of people, and not everyone looks before crossing the road; therefore, covering your brakes is essential for cycling in London. This is so you will be ready to use them when you need to.

When braking, apply even pressure to both levers at the same time. You will need to take extra care if the road is wet or icy, or if there are leaves on the ground.

#6: Let Other Road Users Know What You Are Going To Do

Always look behind you, and signal well in advance of making a turn. Only turn when it is safe to do so.

You should also keep your position in the center of the lane until you start your turn. This will prevent motorists from undertaking you when you turn left.

#7: Don’t Undertake Trucks On The Left

Sneaking up the inside of a large truck can be lethal. You will be in the driver’s blind spot, and if he turns, you have nowhere to go.

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It is far better to wait a few seconds behind the HGV than risk being crushed. If you have to overtake, do it on the right-hand side.

#8: Don’t Hug The Curb

It is much safer to ride at least one meter from the curb. This is because you have more room to react if someone overtakes you too closely.

Other reasons for staying away from the curb are that you will miss drain covers and have more space to react when someone steps out in front of you.

Don’t forget, just because you are on a bike, it doesn’t mean you have any less right to use the road than anyone else. Therefore, be assertive and alert.

#9: Don’t Get Too Close To Parked Cars

People often don’t look behind them before opening their car door. Keep an eye on parked cars to see if anyone is sitting in them, ready to open their door.

You really don’t want to ride at full speed into an open car door!

#10: Make Eye Contact With Other Road Users

If you can make eye contact with a driver, you can get a good idea of if they have seen you or not. This silent communication is very effective and can keep you safe when cycling in London.

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#11: Stick To The Rules Of The Road And Be Considerate

If you stick to the rules of the road, other road users will have a good idea of what you are going to do. But being considerate to others is also a good way of staying out of trouble.

Ride slower in busy areas, and give pedestrians lots of space on shared paths. Remember, pedestrians have priority over bikes, so you need to pay attention for the times when they’re not!

#12: It’s Not The Tour de France!

You may be tempted to ride fast when cycling in London, especially if you are in a rush. However, the streets are always busy, and there is no point riding aggressively, upsetting people, and taking risks.

Leave a bit earlier and enjoy the ride. This way, you’ll arrive at your destination less sweaty as well!

#13: Always Wear A Helmet

When cycling in London, you will realize how hectic it can be, especially during rush hour. Modern bike helmets are lightweight and comfortable as long as you get the right one for you. Therefore, there is no reason why you shouldn’t wear a bike helmet. It is better to be safe than sorry.

#14: Don’t Ride On The Pavements

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If you have an accident with a pedestrian on the pavement, it is your fault. Even if they were not looking, you could get into trouble, as you were not supposed to be there, making you liable. Many cyclists in London have cycle insurance for this reason.

Only ride on paths that clearly indicate that bikes are allowed.

#15: Wear Bright Clothing

Riding in dark clothes at night is a bad idea. Motorists cannot see you, and you will come off much worse if they hit you.

If you wear bright and reflective clothing, you’ll be much more visible.

#16: Keep Your Cool

Be aware that some motorists get wound up by a cyclist just existing. These small-minded individuals might occasionally try to intimidate you, but the best thing to do is to ignore it.

You may be tempted to teach them a lesson or provoke them further. However, this could result in injury, or worse. It simply isn’t worth the risk of getting involved with road rage.

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Some motorists’ issues with cyclists stem from those who put themselves and others in danger by ignoring the rules. Jumping red lights, riding on pavements, and dangerously weaving in and out of traffic give cyclists a bad name. Don’t be one of those cyclists!

#17: Consider Mounting Cameras

Mounting cameras on your helmet and bike is an excellent way of staying safe. If you mount cameras so they are clearly visible to motorists, they will see that you are filming them. Therefore, they will be less likely to do anything silly or dangerous.

Now You Know All About Cycling In London

Cycling in London doesn’t have to be intimidating. It requires a bit of patience, but if you follow the tips above, you can enjoy stress-free and pleasant rides.

It is essential to stay vigilant and focussed and to wear protection. But as long as you use common sense, you’ll be fine!

Cycling in London 3

If you found this article helpful, check out the blogs below for more expert information!

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Tom is an experienced freelance cycling journalist and mountain biking expert who competed nationally in the junior ranks. Now based in the world-famous mountain biking destination of Morzine in the French Alps, Tom spends his summers shredding off-road trails by bike and his winters on the same mountains on a snowboard.

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