5 things to know when a cycling friend visits London

"I've got my hands in my pockets - who cares" lookA few full moons past I received a nice email from Susi, a cycling blogger in New York, who runs Velojoy. She wanted to meet up so I can dish the dirt on cycling in London.

In the picture on the right you can see the obligatory stance you have to take when meeting a fellow blogger. That nonchalant “I’ve got my hands in my pockets – who cares” look. It takes years to perfect but as you can see, me and Susi have it mastered.

Once you’ve stopped ogling at Susi’s fantastic Velojoy blog and returned to London Cyclist I wanted to talk about what exactly “dishing the dirt” on cycling in London is.

There are several crucial elements to a good introduction.

Meet you there

The first step is to choose a good meeting venue. Where better than centrally located Look Mum No Hands. A fine London cycling cafe that satisfies your sweet tooth and at the same time repairs your bike.

Have you tried a Boris Bike?

Even though countries such as France may have had bike hire schemes for years, much of the rest of the world has yet to wake up and smell the coffee. Fortunately, Boris Johnson is a man who well and truly has smelt that coffee and we are now blessed with a cycle hire scheme.

Therefore, one of the first things to show off about cycling in London are the Boris Bikes. Let’s be honest, they are pretty cool, and blue.

Unfortunately, for our American counter parts their bank cards don’t have chips. Therefore, they can’t use the scheme as a casual user. (Chime in here if I’m wrong).

If you are showing someone around, it is a nice courtesy to therefore bring a couple of keys along to test the scheme out.

Where should I cycle?

Good question. I’ve got a few ideas. The easiest route is the Tour De Hyde Park. Made popular by tourists using the cycle hire scheme bikes scattered around the park. It’s an amazing route and you don’t have to deal with heavy traffic. Instead, you simply enjoy the greener side of London.

To do the Tour De Hyde Park simply pick up a Boris Bike from around the park and do a loop along the cycling trails.

Where could I rent a bike?

Of course, if you have time, then there’s plenty more routes to explore in London. Not least of which is a loop that sets off from Tower Bridge and takes you towards Greenwich Park.

For that you’ll need to rent a bike. There’s plenty of places that will rent you a bike. From the ever popular London Bicycle Tour Company, to the more practical Bromptons that can be rented from Velorution to the trendier fixie bikes that can be rented from Foffa Bikes.

What can my city learn from cycling in London?

This is a good question and everyone will have a different response. The Boris Bikes are an obvious answer but I like pointing out the cycle training lessons that we have here. The ones that are subsidised by the government and offer cyclists one-on-one, two hour training sessions. I believe these really make a difference. We also have the cycle to work scheme which is a national scheme to help people buy bikes through tax breaks.

Welcome to London!

I love when people like Susi visit London. It’s great to show the parts of London we can be proud of and the parts that still need working on. It’s also fascinating to hear about cycling in other parts of the world. Hope this mini “welcome guide” is of use!

Just as a small P.S. if you friend is going to be staying in London then they may want some help to find a top rated hotel in London. I hope your friend enjoys their stay!

See also:

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11 Responses to 5 things to know when a cycling friend visits London

  1. velojoy 25/07/2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Thanks Andreas, for your welcome and for your outstanding introduction to the vibrant London cycling scene, including assistance with the Boris Bikes. Our Tour de Hyde Park using the bike share was a particular highlight as we look forward to the arrival of a similar program in New York City in 2012. When can we anticipate a visit from the London Cyclist to this side of “the pond”?

    • Andreas 31/07/2011 at 1:12 pm #

      Next year hopefully! Or perhaps I should hold out until the arrival of cycle hire in NY

  2. John 25/07/2011 at 4:13 pm #

    “Credit for developing and enacting the Barclays bicycle share scheme has been a source of controversy. London mayor Boris Johnson claimed credit for the plan,[8] although the initial concept was announced by Johnson’s predecessor Ken Livingstone, during the latter’s term in office.[9]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barclays_Cycle_Hire

    See also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/feb/09/transport.world1

  3. Anita 25/07/2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Hooray for more cycling blogger meetups across the pond:) So fun to read!

  4. Simon 25/07/2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Well done, Andreas. A refreshingly positive view of the London cycling scene. We cyclists have become, in my opinion, far too quick to snipe and moan about the negatives. I hope that Susi returned still under your influence!

  5. chris 26/07/2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Andreas: One major point to correct:

    “Even though countries such as France may have had bike hire schemes for years, much of the rest of the world has yet to wake up and smell the coffee. Fortunately, Boris Johnson is a man who well and truly has smelt that coffee and we are now blessed with a cycle hire scheme. ”

    Boris Johnson DID NOT come up with the cycle hire scheme. It was already in place from the previous mayor. In fact, Boris was such a donkey about it that he signed away sponsorship of it to Barclays, for 5 years (covering the period of the Olympics), for a mere £5 million per year.

  6. Going Going Bike 02/08/2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Maybe you could do a guide to an all encompassing tourist cycle route that takes in all the sights, Andreas?

    • Andreas 05/08/2011 at 3:19 pm #

      Got one of those in the London Cycle Routes eBook ;)

  7. Seabiscuit 05/08/2011 at 9:55 am #

    Andreas, I love your blog…which is why it pains me to see your grammatical errors! Instead of ‘me and Susi have it mastered’ it should be ‘Susi and I have it mastered’. Sorry for being pedantic. :-)

  8. PaulM 05/08/2011 at 12:39 pm #

    The bad news, Seabiscuit, is that the “me and” solecism is pretty much common usage now – I even heard my daughter’s English teacher using it!

    Though that still strikes me as less daft than her PE teacher, who became a figure of fun with the kids for hopping in her car to travel from one side of the school grounds to the other – well, you know, it must have been at least a furlong, and you really can’t expect a games teacher to have the stamina for that!

    • Andreas 05/08/2011 at 3:20 pm #

      :’( wish I could afford a copy editor (or whatever you call them!)

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