London Bicycle Commuting

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by ADD, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. ADD

    ADD Guest

    So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone have
    much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.

    Cheers.
    -ADD
     
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  2. On 25 Jul 2004 20:56:12 -0700, [email protected] (ADD) wrote:

    >So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone have
    >much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    >isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.


    You can get specific advice from uk.rec.cycling
    They're a good bunch of people (mostly).

    I lived in London for a year, and commuted by bicycle (Southwark to
    Aldwych, over Waterloo Bridge)

    Some impressions:

    *Ride on the LEFT. I know, this should be blindingly obvious, but it
    bears repeating. Also: Roundabouts: Take turns. Yield to traffic
    already on the roundabout.

    *London is a big city, with busy traffic. Do NOT let that discourage
    you. It is surprisingly cyclist-friendly, because a great many of the
    motorists are compelled to treat cyclists as regular traffic because
    of the narrowness of many of the streets. Take advantage of this
    fact, and take the lane.

    * In the centre of the city (and indeed in the City itself) there is
    an abundance of cycle racks and posts and railings to lock your bike
    to. Locking your bike--or at the very least riding an
    extremely-undesireable looking one-- is VITAL, as theft is
    depressingly common.

    * The LCC (London Cycling Campaign) along with Transport for London
    and the office of the mayor have compiled an excellent series of
    bicycle maps covering as much of London as you'll care to see, ever.
    These are availble free of charge in many bicycle shops, and at Tube
    stations.

    *Mudguards. You will need them. London rain falls all the time. And
    there's always the road apples left by police horses....

    More will probably occur to me as this thread goes on, but all in all
    I found London to be a pretty natural place to get around by bicycle.
    The high volume of traffic also means relatively low speeds on most
    streets, which makes for an easier place for a cyclist to share the
    road with cars, taxis, buses, white vans, motorcycles, horses, etc.

    -Luigi

    "London never sleeps--
    It just sucks
    The life out of me
    And the money from my pocket"
    -Catatonia, "Londinium"


    www.livejournal.com/users/ouij
    Photos, rants, raves
     
  3. >So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone have
    >much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    >isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.


    London cycling (in the centre) is very much on the up as a result of the
    congestion charge. Transport for London produce free cycle maps of London which
    are very good. There is a London Cycle Campaign. Pop over to uk.rec.cycling and
    ask for John Hearns. He's based in London, is a regular cyclist, good for
    information - often posts about rides in London, and is a nice bloke. Plus you
    can do track cycling on the ancient velodrome at Herne Hill, which is fun.
    There's also the Eastway Circuit at Lee Valley, see
    http://www.leevalleypark.com/fe/master.asp?nodeidl1=3&nodeidl2=6&level=3&n
    odeidl3=119

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, helen s


    --This is an invalid email address to avoid spam--
    to get correct one remove fame & fortune
    h*$el*$$e*nd**$o$ts**i*$*$m*m$o*n*[email protected]$*a$o*l.c**$om$

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  4. mark

    mark Guest

    "ADD" wrote ...
    > So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone have
    > much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    > isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.
    >
    > Cheers.
    > -ADD


    No commuting time, but I have cycled in and out of the city a few times on
    visits. As the other two posters said, the London Cycling Campaign/Transport
    for London maps are truly excellent. In addition to cycle lanes and cycle
    paths throughout the city, many thoroughfares have lanes restricted to
    busses, taxis, and bicycles. I found these really pleasant to use, but YMMV.

    As Luigi mentioned, the sheer congestion reduces traffic speeds in the city
    center to a level where a cyclist can easily move as fast as or faster than
    the motorized traffic, which makes cycling a lot of fun. And yes, fenders
    are very much a necessity anywhere in the UK, as is a good rain jacket.

    If you have a bike with reasonably fat tires, check out the Grand Union
    Canal towpath, and other canals going through the city. It's a side of
    London that I suspect not many foreign visitors get to see.

    Where did you hear that London "isn't the friendliest" for cycles? You
    definitely have to have your wits about you, and it's no place for a novice
    cyclist or the faint hearted, but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent
    cycling in London.
    --
    mark
     
  5. Squeaker

    Squeaker New Member

    Joined:
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    I do bits of my commute in the City of London and in Medway (Kent). Oddly, London feels much safer provided I stay alert and don't do anything stupid. My theory is that in the congestion charge zone there is a higher proportion of professional drivers, i.e. taxis, buses, etc. who have an incentive to stay out of trouble because their livelihood depends on driving. Take it easy and don't try to race anyone and you'll be fine!
     
  6. R15757

    R15757 Guest

    Squeaker wrote in part:

    << My theory is that in the congestion charge zone there
    is a higher proportion of professional drivers, i.e. taxis, buses, etc.
    who have an incentive to stay out of trouble because their livelihood
    depends on driving. >>

    That's not it, it's just that these pro drivers have
    vastly more experience in city traffic than everyday
    commuter drivers who may drive just one or two hours
    each day. That's one reason why rush hours get so
    crazy--not only more drivers on the road, but a flood
    of idiots (each seemingly convinced of their superior
    skills) comes out to join the pros who were already
    there.

    Robert
     
  7. On Mon, 26 Jul 2004 19:36:41 +1000, Squeaker
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I do bits of my commute in the City of London and in Medway (Kent).
    >Oddly, London feels much safer provided I stay alert and don't do
    >anything stupid. My theory is that in the congestion charge zone there
    >is a higher proportion of professional drivers, i.e. taxis, buses, etc.
    >who have an incentive to stay out of trouble because their livelihood
    >depends on driving.


    I was in London at the time the Congestion Charge was first
    implemented. In the weeks immediately after its inception I noticed a
    few things:

    * Congestion inside the zone did decrease--but average vehicle speeds
    seemed to increase as well. For me, it was a bit of a tradeoff.

    * Since motorcycles are exempt from congestion charges, the
    introduction of the charge saw an overnight increase in the number of
    50cc motorscooters within the congestion charge area. Most of these
    were ridden by people with little or no experience on two wheels.
    These novices made cycling a bit more unnerving for me, since they
    zipped about quickly and unpredictably. Not so much so that I quit
    riding, but enough for me to notice a difference. Perhaps now the
    motorscooter- riders are a bit more civilised.

    Also, with respect to "professionals": I have a deep and abiding
    respect for London's Black Cab drivers. Their rigourous licencing
    process makes them great motorists to share the road with: they
    accord you *exactly* as much respect as you're due, as a cyclist--no
    more, no less. As a result, they're extremely predictable and not
    prone to doing anything excessively dumb.

    White Van Men are, on the other hand, the scum of the earth behind the
    wheel.


    -Luigi
     
  8. "ADD" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone

    have
    > much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    > isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.


    For a big city it's pretty friendly, and bewildered foreigners get
    treated with sympathy. It's not like an American gridiron city. I
    can't think of any individual location as weird as Boston with it's
    Common with five right angled corners, making everyone lost, but the
    overall effect is just as confusing. Get a good map, and London has
    good maps.

    For its population the countryside is very close, and makes good bike
    riding, but there's still an hour or so riding through suburb to get
    to it, suburb which looks more like a downtown to American eyes. As
    an alternative, jump on a train with your bike to skip the boring
    bits. The Central London section of the CTC has rides which gather
    at train stations and go out somewhere different each time.

    .. Take a look at the Cyclists Touring Club web site www.ctc.org.uk
    and the London Cycling Campaign's web site www.lcc.org.uk. Also, for
    fun, Look at Transport for London's web site, and especially its
    journey planner, which will do bike journeys as well. When you go to
    the journey planner, and see the list of travel modes, go to "further
    options" and uncheck everything except bikes. It will let you set
    any time as your maximum time limit, but seems to give up for trips
    beyond two hours at its 11 km/hr pace. I'm not sure that is enough
    to get you from Heathrow to downtown.

    On most streets you drive on the left, but this is not because of any
    general law, and in fact there is one street, Savoy Court, in front
    of the Savoy Hotel, where the rule is drive on the right.

    have fun

    Jeremy Parker
    Barnet, London
     
  9. On Mon, 26 Jul 2004 17:13:37 +0100, "Jeremy Parker"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >
    >"ADD" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:[email protected]
    >> So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone

    >have
    >> much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    >> isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.

    >
    >For a big city it's pretty friendly, and bewildered foreigners get
    >treated with sympathy. It's not like an American gridiron city. I
    >can't think of any individual location as weird as Boston with it's
    >Common with five right angled corners, making everyone lost, but the
    >overall effect is just as confusing. Get a good map, and London has
    >good maps.


    Mm. A street may change names several times along its length in
    London--and keep its name when it goes around quite a severe bend.
    It's perverse.

    Also: the one-way roads. Be mindful of those.


    >On most streets you drive on the left, but this is not because of any
    >general law, and in fact there is one street, Savoy Court, in front
    >of the Savoy Hotel, where the rule is drive on the right.


    Savoy Court isn't really a street so much as a forecourt to the Savoy
    Hotel...I'd guess it only lasts for two dozen yards at most...and once
    you pull out of that, it's a left turn to join the left-driving
    traffic on the Strand. (all this from memory, mind).

    I can't think of anywhere else I was supposed to ride on the right in
    London, now.

    -Luigi

    >
    >have fun
    >
    >Jeremy Parker
    >Barnet, London
    >
     
  10. On 25 Jul 2004 20:56:12 -0700, [email protected] (ADD) wrote in
    message <[email protected]>:

    >So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone have
    >much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    >isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.


    It's a great place to cycle, loads of people do it, and honestly the
    biggest problem is navigation in my view. If you are a reasonably fit
    rider you will be moving at the same speed as the cars, when they move
    at all...

    Slide on down to uk.rec.cycling and say hi to the natives :)

    Guy
    --
    May contain traces of irony. Contents liable to settle after posting.
    http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk

    88% of helmet statistics are made up, 65% of them at Washington University
     
  11. ADD wrote:

    > So I am prepping for an ex-pat assignment to London. Does anyone have
    > much experience bike commuting around London? I have heard that it
    > isn't the friendliest. Any insight would be great.


    Just found this, which might interest you:
    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/press-releases/2004/july/press-PN1117.shtml

    Guy
    --
    May contain traces of irony. Contents liable to settle after posting.
    http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk

    88% of helmet statistics are made up, 65% of them at Washington
    University
     
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