Is it safe to cycle in London?

Hey – my name is Anna, writing to you from Denmark, I have a rookie
question you might be able to answer.

I don’t know anything about the bike culture in London or the
facilities on the roads and would like to ride in zone one. Do you
think it’s too dangerous when you’re first of all used to ride in the
right side of the road, and don’t know the roads in inner London?
And…. do a lot of people go by bike in inner London?

Thanks in advance

Do you tell a person who is visiting that it is safe to cycle in London or do you tell them that it can be very dangerous?

I’ll leave it open to the comments..

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47 Responses to Is it safe to cycle in London?

  1. Emma 30/12/2011 at 10:50 am #

    As Anna is female I’d recommend Breeze for getting in touch with other female cyclists and riding socially. http://www.goskyride.com/breeze

    I don’t often cycle in zone one but when I do I realise how, in comparison, few people cycle in other zones – I do 5-2 from South to West.

    As for dangerous, there’s always an element of risk whether you’re cycling, walking or driving in any place. I’ve never cycled in Denmark and my only experience is in London and Devon. If you like cycling you’ll give it a go wherever you are in my opinion.

    • Andreas 31/12/2011 at 2:29 pm #

      That’s a great recommendation of the Breeze rides – I need to keep that one in mind next time someone asks about social rides in London.

  2. Coallers 30/12/2011 at 10:52 am #

    It’s probably not as safe as Denmark but an increasing number of people cycle in central London. If your zone 1 cycling is a commute perhaps try cycling around London at the weekend when you’re not in a rush. Take your time and find roads that you like. If you find yourself on a busy street there is probably a smaller, quieter road running parallel.

    Don’t be intimidated by the odd impatient driver. Be assertive.

    Search on the internet for local clubs and rides. Cycling in a group might help you get used to cycling on the left.

    Zone 1 traffic is quite often moving more slowly than cyclists so take your time and watch out for poor road services.

    Most importantly – enjoy it. London is a great city and a tour on a bike is the best way to see it.

  3. Yvann 30/12/2011 at 10:53 am #

    I don’t expect Anna will have much of a problem with switching sides of the road – I have driven and cycled in both the UK and Germany and it’s not hard to switch over in your head.

    When friends ask me, I say it’s intimidating, not necessarily dangerous. I would advise Anna to try out some of the routes she wants to use on a Saturday or Sunday morning when there is not much traffic, so that she gets used to tricky lane changes and confusing signage without having to deal with HGVs at the same time.

    There are more commuters in central London than I ever expect, but very few leisure riders from what I can tell. And nowhere near as many as in any other European city I’ve been to.

    And steer clear of the junctions of doom (Hyde Park Corner and Elephant and Castle are the two I won’t go near on a bike – I struggle with them in a car!)

    • Bob 05/01/2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Anna has asked a very appropriate question.

      Its not difficult to switch from cycling on side of the road to the other. However, it’s important to make a deliberate effort about this when getting back onto your bike after a short stop. Also taking roundabouts anti- clockwise rather than clockwise requires constant remembering.

      But there are two major differences Anna needs to be aware of.

      In Denmark the “default” position in an accident involving a driver and cyclist is that the driver is automatically legally at fault unless it can be shown otherwise.

      This means that Danish drivers take far greater care relative to cyclists than UK drivers.

      Secondly, cycle lanes in Denmark, especially Copenhagen are of a far higher standard than in London; clear separation from vehicles is the norm in Denmark.

      So the previous advice to try a route out in daylight during the weekend is very sound.

      Anna should also highly visible, something which again is not necessary in Denmark because of the clear separation between cycle lanes and vehicles.

      • Allie 18/01/2012 at 2:06 pm #

        I used to live in Copenhagen (cycling occasionally there) and now am a regular commuter in London. Agree with the above comment, however would also add that you need to ensure you claim your lane- don’t ride close to the curb (which may feel ‘safe’ especially as you will be used to having traffic give you a wide berth while passing). And you also need to be constantly aware of pedestrians and motorists as they will not necessarily be looking out for or yielding to you (as they would in CPH).

  4. Jag 30/12/2011 at 10:53 am #

    Hi Anna

    I’ve only been cycling recently in Central London and have to admit I found it pretty scary at first not having been on a bike in over 10 years. I don’t think the fact it’s on the other side of the road matters too much as I’ve ridden in Amsterdam and Paris recently too and not had any problems.

    The best advice I can give is to find someone to ride around with at first if you’re unsure of rules regarding where you can go etc. I don’t know how experienced a cyclist you are but I found a free lesson with TFL (Transport for London) which helped with whatever ability you had. My main issue was getting nervous near major junctions so in my 90 minute session we rode around Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, The Strand etc which was a great help as the instructor showed me about positioning, making sure I was seen etc

    To be honest I feel much safer riding in London than many other places in the UK. Cars are more aware of us cyclists since there are so many, whereas outside London where much fewer people cycle, I think it’s more dangerous as cars aren’t used to looking out for bike riders. Also, the relatively new cycle hire scheme means more cyclists on road also. Central London has a lot of cycle lanes so it’s not too scary.

    I think you’ll be fine if you ride with someone a few times first, and as you should in any city, just watch out for pedestrians (especially tourists) walking into the road without looking, and inconsiderate car and taxi drivers.

    Good luck!

  5. Gaz 30/12/2011 at 10:56 am #

    I think it can be difficult to cycle in London at first. You don’t know the roads and the traffic can be quite off putting at first.
    But cycling in London is pretty safe ‘as long as you keep your wits about you’.

    The best thing to do is indicate your intentions clearly and look behind you often to know about potential issues before they happen. Also don’t cycle too close to the curb.

    One thing I heard from someone that just came back from the Netherlands. They thought that cyclists from places with good cycling infrastructure where usually poorer cyclists than those who don’t have it. They aren’t used to traffic being close around them and as such they don’t read the road as much and get into more issues when not using road systems which have them in mind.

  6. Greg Collins 30/12/2011 at 10:57 am #

    Three challenges for Anna; riding on the left, riding on unfamiliar roads with dreadful intermittent sign-age and circuitous routes where signs exist, and riding in a completely different traffic/road space context to that found on the continent. Perhaps Anna might benefit from a riding lesson or two before she takes to the roads?

    Is cycling in central London safe? Relatively yes once you are oriented and aware of the likely risks. But no cycling anywhere is completely safe, it is always a calculated risk surely?

    Is cycling in central London fun? Certainly.

  7. Roger 30/12/2011 at 11:16 am #

    Cycling in London is safe so long as you take every possible precaution and walk with your bike where there are obvious hazards. If you are able to choose where you stay then it might be a good idea to pick somewhere close to a river or a canal and use the tow paths. I have used the R Thames, R Wandle and the Grand Union to get into London almost completely traffic free. These rides are delightful and you can’t get lost. For routes away from the rivers Transport for London provide free maps showing where cycle paths have been provided. These are mainly adjacent to roads and some are completely safe while others are not. My GOLDEN RULE is if I feel uncomfortable then walk or choose a different path. I walk accross all busy junctions and roundabouts. It may take me longer than some to get from A to B but I enjoy the exercise and seeing the sights whether cycling or walking. Make sure you have a lock for your bike for the occasions you park.

  8. Ashleigh 30/12/2011 at 11:30 am #

    Hi Anna, Welcome to London!

    This is absolutely the right question to ask but in the end safety is relative. Cycling in London is probably safer than riding a motorbike in London but less safe than riding a car, bus, the tube or walking in London.

    I have been cycling in London for 2 years and so far I have had no incidents that have caused any injury. You have some influence over your safety and I would advise the following to increase your safety cycling in London:

    1) Cycle training: It’s not well known or well advertised but TFL offer free or subsidised cycle training: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11689.aspx. This is a really good idea to make sure you know what you’re doing on the roads and increase your confidence.

    2) The right kit: Helmet, lights and bright clothes to make sure you can be seen. Yes it costs a bit but what you spend on the right gear you will probably save on tube/bus fares or car costs.

    3) Planning: plan routes which are quiet, involve as many cycle paths/lanes as possible and are generally cycle friendly. Yes it might take a little longer but who cares when we’re talking about safety? http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ has some good tools to help.

    4) Be sensible, use your intuition and bear in mind the dangers: probably not a good idea to listen to music, don’t undertake vehicles and keep your wits about you.

    My personal opinion is: S&%t can happen but if you are sensible (and by asking this question it looks like you are) and take all possible precautions, you should be OK.

  9. alua 30/12/2011 at 11:40 am #

    I understand your worry about switching side of the road – I bought my book and it took me two weeks to get on it, because I was worried about this.

    But I found it’s much easier to switch sides of the road when you are cycling, then when you are pedestrian. I get confused which side to look when I’m crossing the street walking (so I end up looking both left and right), but never when I’m cycling. You’ve got the rest of the traffic to guide you after all, and that really helps.

    I agree on that it can feel intimidating to cycle in London – but it’s fine to cycle here. Just get off the main roads as much as possible and avoid those ghastly, huge roundabouts.

    • alua 30/12/2011 at 11:41 am #

      I bought my *bike! (typo!)

  10. Paul Dicker 30/12/2011 at 11:59 am #

    Its no more dangerous than cycling anywhere else in the UK. I commute 80 miles a day from Basildon in Essex to Waterloo in central London. Basildon to Upminster is largely country lanes and Upminster to Waterloo gets more urban and busy. I think the one thing that will make the biggest difference is planning your route in advance and know where you are going. It makes cycling much easier if you are in the right place at the right time. Tools like http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com are particularly useful. Also being visible is important. I see so many people dressed all in black, with no lights, riding down a lonely country lane and wonder how they are still alive.

    • Marcus K 30/12/2011 at 11:49 pm #

      @ Paul – you serious about your daily commute? how long does that take you each way?

      I thought I was doing well doing 25 miles round trip per day. Good effort.

      M

  11. Michiel 30/12/2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Hi Anna
    I’m from the Netherlands. For sure UK is not Netherlands or Denmark when it comes to cycling. Both the cyclists and car drivers have to learn a lot before it get that far.
    But if you cycle sensibly and don’t try to race and zig/zag through traffic it’s perfectly fine.

    And in London it’s actually much easier to be on the correct side of the road. It would be very clear quickly that you are on the wrong side. Keep the sidewalk/pavement on your left shoulder.
    It’s when it’s quiet and dark I get confused easiest.

    I cycle from Kingston to London regularly (13 miles/ 21 k each way) and have not had any issue.
    Love it, makes you get to know London quickly and easily.

    Michiel

    • CK 01/01/2012 at 11:30 am #

      Michiel

      Which route do you take? I live close to Kingston and work in Regent’s Park (NW1) and so far, haven’t worked out a good journey. The route I use when I drive is not cycle friendly at all so I’d be very grateful if you’d share yours:-)

      CK

  12. John Somers 30/12/2011 at 12:15 pm #

    OK, where do I start………I don’t really believe (as a cyclist that regularly cycles through London) that cycling in London is unsafe as long as you stick to a few basic rules – especially if you are either new to cycling in London or a novice to cycling in busy metropolitan areas.

    1) Be seen – now this means that not only road users but by pedestrians (especially) in London can see you, hi-vis clothing, hi-vis rucksack cover and I would personally recommend having flashing lights fitted and turned on even in daylight – they do make a difference.

    2) Be heard – seems daft but it is rather important especially with the lemming like pedestrians you “meet” while cycling in London – forget the “tinkle bell” you need something louder, so either be able to use a “parade ground” bellow (“Oi…!!” is a very useful term) or use some form of air horn.

    3) Ensure that the bicycle is in full working order, paying special attention to tyres and brakes – I know this may sound like stating the obvious but both are incredibly important while cycling anywhere let alone in London.

    4) Know your route – planning some of your routes so that you know where you are going is very important, it enables you to join traffic on roads where needed rather than trying to cross it – i.e. turning left with traffic rather than right against traffic.

    5) Cycle Lanes & Cycle Routes – where possible and practical stick to them, this is even for experienced cyclists (such as myself) though when in bus lanes do be aware that some buses may overtake you and them immediately pull in, right in front of you to drop/pick up passengers. Most bus drivers I have encountered cycling in London aren’t too bad, some of them in fact have been pretty damned conscientious WRT cyclists but does not exclude some of the prats that you will encounter (for whatever reason…!).

    6) Traffic lights & Pedestrian Crossings – OK these can be a bane to all of “us” cyclists BUT do not ignore them, remember to watch out for other cyclist “tail-ending” in to you when you stop at red lights ‘cause not everyone follows this rule of the road!! Do watch out for pedestrians that continue to cross even when the lights are against them – they really can be lemmings when they want to be!

    7) See & Hear – do remember to continuously look over BOTH shoulders to see what is approaching from behind you and PLEASE do not be tempted to wear earphones etc. and listen to music while cycling in London, you really do need to hear what is going on, especially behind you!!

    If you apply these points you should have few if any problems cycling in London but you never know, so if unsure get off your bike and walk for a bit and enjoy the scenery – it’s not wimping out, it’s getting you bearings! :-)

    • alua 30/12/2011 at 4:34 pm #

      Okay, there is no like button here, but that’s one sensible post :-)

  13. William Hook 30/12/2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I live in Stafford in the Midlands (small town), but visit London a few times a year, and I can safely say that, on the roads, I feel safer riding in London than I do in Stafford.

    Why? Because the average speed of cars here in Stafford is a lot higher than in London. There’s far less traffic here, and I usually can’t keep up with it on a bike, meaning that cars are constantly passing me. We have no bus lanes to ride in, and if I ride next to the curb it’s mostly fine, but, of course, there’s still the problem of drains being 5 foot below the tarmac, debris on the side of the road, being doored, and so on. If I pull out into the road enough, the drivers around here get extremely annoyed and tend to honk at you if you slow them down, so I try and stay off the roads as much as possible.

    However, in London, granted, there’s a LOT more traffic, but aside from the busy A roads, most of the time I can keep up with the traffic, and I don’t feel like I’m holding people up if I ride in the middle of the lane. I’ve ridden on both the Boris Bikes and my own bike in London and I felt absolutely fine with it.

    If you’re a seasoned cyclist (eg, you ride fairly often), you shouldn’t have a problem with London, however if you’ve never cycled before it’s still fine, but I’d stick to the back roads as much as possible.

    And, of course, never ever pass an HGV unless it’s VERY safe to do so. When passing one, I almost always wait until they’re stopped in traffic to do so, and never pass them on the left next to the pavement.

  14. Andrew 30/12/2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I think you certainly need your whits about you, and to be assertive, but without becoming aggressive. It’s also wise to be properly prepared – for example rain gear to cope with London’s changeable weather, lights so you are safe after dark.

    But ultimately there is an element of risk, even with the best riding skill, awareness and preparation – as I discovered after coming off as a result of some black ice. I’ll be straight back on my bike after Christmas however.

    • William Hook 30/12/2011 at 12:52 pm #

      Lucky you…I had a mountain biking accident in October, and won’t be back on the bike until about March / April. :(

    • Roger 30/12/2011 at 2:05 pm #

      ‘You have no protection against buses, cars and lorries so to ‘BE ASSERTIVE’ on a bike is a sure way to end up in trouble. If you want to be safe it’s best to give way.

      • Richard Bridger 31/12/2011 at 3:03 pm #

        Got to say I disagree Roger. I think it’s much safer to make clear to the vehicle behind you that they cannot get by and shouldn’t even try. I genuinely fear for the people who ride in the gutters and get stuck in some awful situations sometimes. Most drivers in London are pretty aware and are generally tolerant of cyclists ‘owning the road’ as long as we are behaving within reason.

        • Roger 31/12/2011 at 3:15 pm #

          I don’t suggest riding in the gutter Richard but to rely on ‘MOST’ drivers being aware and tolerant is the likely cause of many a cyclist’s demise.

  15. Michelle 30/12/2011 at 1:34 pm #

    +1 for planning your route. I use http://www.bikehub.co.uk/ as it provides several alternative routes depending on how quiet/fast you want to get to your destination. Even the fast routes tend to favour cyclist-friendly roads.

  16. Adam 30/12/2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Cycling in London is going to definitely be scary in comparison with Denmark the main problem is motorists in this country have no respect for you if you are on a bike. I have cycled all over Europe and in the States and without doubt this is the worst country for motorists driving too close and to fast.

    There is a good film on the subject call Beauty and the Bike http://www.bikebeauty.org/New_2011_Edition_BATB/Home.html

    The other thing my friends from Europe all say is ‘you Londoners cycle so fast’

  17. Henk 30/12/2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Dear Anna,

    You asked about the cycling culture in London. There is no single, mature, cycling culture in London (or the UK generally). Instead there are a number of evolving sub-cultures, most evolving from some sporting heritage.
    So you have the racers: curly handlebars, flat on their chest, fast as a car. Don’t get in their way – they don’t like it.
    You have the mountain bikers, hopping on an off kerbs; potholes no object.
    And the BMXers, generally hanging around in a mob with nowhere much to go, but always ready to greet anyone with a wheel greater than 20 inch with a cheery “Nice Bike!”
    Then there are the cycle couriers, a living acknowledgement that the bike is the fastest way around London. They carry Important Documents, so that makes them Important too. They stop for nothing, least of all crossing pedestrians. Or red lights. They like fixies… That should tell you all you need to know about them.
    Beyond those evolving cultures there is a small but growing number of utility and leisure cyclists: casual commuters, tourists, shoppers, weekend pootlers. These are a disparate bunch, with no particular cultural identity, except that they don’t identify with any of the other cultures. The Boris Bikes have increased their number considerably and cycling safety in London is the better for them.
    From the cultures of cyclists to the culture of planners and motorists. Notwithstanding all the noises made by Mayor Boris, and the gallons of blue paint sprayed along certain key routes, there exists no cycling culture amongst planners and motorists. There are hardly any worthwhile cycling facilities and the cyclist is bottom of the planners’ priorities. Many motorists feel cyclists get in the way and should be on the pavement (though this is illegal).
    So is London too dangerous? Not if you understand that it is a jungle, keep your wits about you, have eyes in the back of your head (or use a mirror) and make sure you’re seen. (Poundland sells a hi-viz tunic for £1.)
    Is it enjoyable? You bet. Especially in the weekend or in the holidays, when the traffic is less choking. Explore on Google Maps, using the satellite view to spot parks, streetview to help you identify key pints on your route (or points even) and the route planner for pedestrians.
    Have fun!

  18. Titan yer Tummy 30/12/2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Dear Anna,

    I do believe there are some very good tips above. The only thing I feel I should add is to mention types of vehicle.

    Someone has already talked about buses. Personally I find bus drivers the most most considerate and forgiving. They are highly trained. I rarely find myself in conflict with a bus.

    Taxi drivers are much less tolerant and far more likely to cause you a problem. Be wary, give them space and always assume they will perform some unexpected manoeuvre in front of you.

    In the UK we are plagued by a breed of driver known as white van man. Unfortunately white van man is not restricted to a white van; he is basically a yobbo or lout in any motorised vehicle and is to be avoided where possible. The difficulty is identifying WVM before he has the opportunity to cause you a problem.

    Lastly there is the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) or lorry. HGVs are highly dangerous to cyclists and unfortunately in particular to women cyclists. My advice is to to keep right away from lorries, if you are near one assume that he has not seen you. Be very very careful not to ride up the nearside ( left side) of a lorry whilst it is slow moving or stopped, they have a nasty habit of turning left and crushing cyclists to death.

  19. Iain 30/12/2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I’ve been known to end up on a raod I didn’t intend to use when exploring the city through not knowing the roads and the traffic, this adds to the fun! Get an A-Z so you’ll be able to find where you are and seek another route. I don’t find the buses or taxi’s too bad, most are just doing what you’re doing using the bus lanes to scoot past the queues of cars and tend to give room. I will say that “enough” room is very much subjective, but I suspect the chap who’s spent a lot of his money on a shiny black ca doesn’t want to scratch it against my bike, whereas the chap in someone elses’s people carrier doesn’t care…. There are lots of quieter areas in Londo where cycling’s great – Hyde park and the roads around St James’ park aren’t oo bad, just watch out for tourists! Remember to indicate your intentions, even if it’s just to other cyclists (had a few near misses with peple who stop at random places without warning!) and if something starts to feel scary stop. Most importantly, enjoy yourself (if we haven’t put yu of ye!) there’s lots to see and early on a Sunday morning’s a great time to explore when you can take in more of the scenery without having to concentrate copletely on avoiding the traffic. It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper sight seeing ride into the city, something to do next year!

  20. Dave H 31/12/2011 at 12:18 am #

    Endorse fully the idea that you need to ride where other ride users cannot ignore you, make a big noise as an audible WARNING rather than a cry of horror when it is too late to avoid a crash.

    3 vital pieces of safety gear which you should have working to maximum level possible pair of eyes, pair of ears, and a brain, to make sure you know exactly what is happening around you.

    Learn especially the skill of looking directly behind you. Women report that they have difficulty with this more than men. This is known by motorcyclists as the Lifesaver check for a very good reason. It will enable you to look directly back into the eyes of the driver in the vehicle behind you, and gives a positive means of non verbal communication, that you are aware of each other and generally what you next intended move will be.

    A good rule for all road users is to make sure that eye contact is the only contact you will be making with another road user – this works for pedestrians as well – they are very well practised in giving a glare that tells you that they expect you to stop for them to cross the road. If you can’t see the pedestrian’s eyes shout at them and expect the worst.

    Be especially wary of construction site traffic. Whilst HGV’s represent less than 4% of vehicle moving around in Central London they deliver more than 50% of the deaths and serious injuries, and the majority of the HGV’s involved are construction site vehicles, these do not have to have life guards (side frames), they often have have twin rear axles that can chew up anything that goes under the wheels, and they are often driven aggressively by staff under pressure to get excavated material away from the site and fresh concrete etc fed in. The greatest danger is not from you riding up alongside a truck but from a truck or bus partially overtaking you and turning left ‘through’ you. if in any doubt stop fast and pull well out of their way. Fortunately they make a lot of noise and you can hear the danger coming up behind.

    The cost of insurance etc means that many vehicles driving round in London are not insured and many divers do not hold a driving licence. be certain to get the details is you do have a crash.

    One tip though, as London does have a lot of 1-way streets, which then put you back onto a 2-way network, put an arrow on your handlebars (on a map clip or similar fitting) pointing to the left. It will remind you of which side of the road to move to when you come round a complex gyratory system.

  21. Andreas 31/12/2011 at 2:44 pm #

    It’s really interesting reading different people’s opinions on how safe it is to cycle in London. Thanks everyone who has replied and added to the sensible discussion with both opinions and useful tips. The general consensus seems to be it can be safe as long as you cycle assertively.

  22. Ryan 31/12/2011 at 3:05 pm #

    One main issue with Central London and South East cycling is the state of the roads. They are appalling. You really need to ride assertively and in primary position whenever you feel safe to do so. it gives you time to see the road ahead and react for those potholes/sunken manholes that you didn’t see.

    Drivers seem to think you can cycle straight over these, not realising that these are a potential death trap.

  23. Melody 31/12/2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I’ve cycled in London for 15 years, had two accidents, both involved people not indicating. Always assume that the vehicle in front of you at the lights will turn left, even if it’s not indicating. And especially watch out for oncoming traffic pulling a dodgy right hand turn in front of you.

    Oh, and the leg shavers can be pretty rude, too. You know, the ones on bikes that cost more than a new car. As a woman, it’s awesome over-taking them on my cheap Giant racer.

    And watch out for being doored – give parked cars at least three feet clearance. Drivers will hate you for it, but sod ‘em!

    • Andreas 01/01/2012 at 9:53 am #

      All very good advice – the dooring is one to look out for!

  24. Dimitris 31/12/2011 at 8:32 pm #

    It is relative. I grew up cycling in Athens, Greece. I found London drivers considerate by comparison.

    There are muppets, and there are idiots, but you are unlikely to find someone keen to murder you. So make sure you position yourself where they WILL see you. Almost always this means in the middle of the lane.

    You can also pick a smart route,

    I would like to plug “Cyclecraft” by John Franklin which has loads of sensible advice.

    Oh, and “A” and some “B” roads outside London are downright scary. Narrow, and card drivers feel they are pursued by demons. I am much happier riding in the city.

    Happy new year and safe journeys to all.

  25. Ai 01/01/2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Having cycled in Copenhagen/Denmark and now in London for a few months, the answer is unfortunately no. Drivers and the road infrastructure is not designed with the cyclist in mind.

    I also had the opportunity to drive in Copenhagen and I was constantly worrying about forgetting to give way to cyclists but the system is so well designed, that I didn’t need to worry.

    Follow advice to be seen, cycle assertively and be seen. It’s fine to cycle inner London in my experience so far, if rather intimidating initially.

  26. Chris 03/01/2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Worth reading this
    http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/tips/7-mistakes-you-are-making-with-your-cycling-and-how-you-can-correct-them/

    I think you have to assume that in a city the size of London there will be a lot of idiots on the road as well as those who drive well and adopt your route accordingly. I try and avoid all the busiest routes, junctions and those places most likely to have buses and HGVs, wear hi viz, stay off the kerb and avoid undertaking.

    After starting out on Boris Bikes from Vauxhall, I’ve been cycling from Wimbledon to London since May 2011 and have never looked back. Far better for getting around than the train / underground….

  27. Steph 03/01/2012 at 5:10 pm #

    watch addison lee’s (private taxi company) cars – they are awful, inconsiderate, pushy drivers.

    • Ashleigh 03/01/2012 at 5:31 pm #

      Yes Addison Lee Taxis truely are! They are based near me (in Camden Town) and use my road as a cut through. They habitually undertake or overtake badly at the right turn into my road…. very agressive drivers too. A friend of mine stopped using them because of their agressive driving and attitude towards cyclists.

      • Roger 03/01/2012 at 5:54 pm #

        The consensus of opinion here is that poor little Anna from Denmark should be safe so long as she adopts an assertive attitude. How would an assertive attitude on a bicycle stand up to Addison Lee Taxis?

        • Ashleigh 03/01/2012 at 8:27 pm #

          While they drive a little irresponsibly I don’t think they would actively run you down. Beep at you, rev their engines stupidly yes, but it’s not in their interest to be involved in a murder enquiry – doesn’t tend to do drivers much good for their career…

  28. Roger 03/01/2012 at 9:41 pm #

    I don’t think I would wish to put it to the test – it could be curtains for the cyclist!

  29. bob 04/01/2012 at 12:05 pm #

    You didn’t say if your cycling was for pleasure or commuting. Im assuming pleasure so here are my 3 simple tips,

    1) try to stick to side streets. They are usually more enjoyable anyway, detours through parks, one way streets etc can be very rewarding. Free official maps available from TFL

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11682.aspx

    2) Always assume vehicles are turning left so NEVER undertake ANY vehicle. What Melody said

    3) Avoid school pick and drop times until you are familiar with driver behaviour. School times are 8:15 am – 9:00 am and 14:45 – 15:30. Most of the problems i have had are with parents coming out of side streets without spotting me.
    Some people may suggest to avoid morning and evening rush hour altogether, but i have found that most London drivers at those times are pretty accommodating towards cyclists, especially in central London.

  30. koza 04/01/2012 at 11:24 pm #

    just a bit of background, i’ve been cycling london and it’s suburbs for around 30years. In recent months i have dramatically reduced my cycling trips, almost stopped. I couldn’t recommend for anyone to cycle in london, cars in general are over competitive particularly in the suburbs and many vehicles don’t realise how close they get when they whizz past, if they don’t hit you it certainly puts you off cycling.

    The lack of understanding from Boris Johnson for cyclists has not helped. I would recommend that if you do cycle london, never cycle down the side of large vehicles when they’re moving.

  31. TomM 06/01/2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Watch out for bike theft, it is a big problem in London and in many cases even good quality locks do not stand up to the thieves who will steal a crummy £30 bike as fast as a good one. Best to keep the bike with you at all times..

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