Compared to cramped buses and hot, busy tubes, safe cycling in London has got to be the nicest way to get around (weather permitting!). The general population seems to agree – there are 150% more bike trips today than in 2000, and bikes often out-number cars during rush hour. A bike hire scheme (known as ‘Boris Bikes’) was set up in 2010, and now half a million journeys are made on two wheels every day.
So far, so good, but people are rightly concerned about the dangers. In this post, we look at the most popular cycling borough, the benefits, the dangers and the statistics of cycling in London, to help you decide if two wheels is the way for you.
Where do London cyclists live?
If you plan to cycle to work, moving to East London could be the best option.
Known as ‘London’s Cycle Capital’, one in seven commuters from Hackney travel by bike, more than those travelling by car.
For Hackney, a number of factors have led to this cycling boom – it’s not far from many employment centres, improvements have been made to roads by the local council, and the kind of people who live there (young, fashionable types) are more likely to cycle and not own a car. The second most popular borough is Islington in North London, where around one in nine commuters commutes on two wheels.
Cheapest rent for a two-bed flat in Hackney: £1015 pcm
Cheapest rent for a two-bed flat in Islington: £1250 pcm
Dangers of cycling
With packed roads and huge roundabouts it's no surprise that many are put off by the dangers of cycling in London. Large vehicles such as lorries are particularly worrying, as they are responsible for the majority of deaths over the last few years.
However, statistics show that cycling in London is gradually getting safer, and the fatality rate is decreasing on the whole.
A number of schemes have been introduced in the last few years aiming to make it safer for cyclists in London. Bike routes in outer boroughs are steadily improving with a £4 million investment, certain roads are being limited to 20mph and the introduction of cycle ‘Superhighways’, and an official Cycling Commissioner who's job it is to find more ways to get cyclists on the roads and feeling safe.
Despite improvements, it's important to always wear a helmet and reflective clothing, and avoid cycling up the inside lane of large vehicles. Unless you are cycling through a quiet area, it is best not to listen to music either, to avoid getting distracted.
Benefits of Cycling
With four times as many men as women commuting to work by bike, the London Cycle Campaign are keen to get more cyclists (particularly female) on the roads, by promoting the many benefits of cycling.
Due to rush hour traffic, cycling is often a much quicker and more direct way to get to work. It’s good for the environment, for your health, and for your wallet, as you won’t have to pay for your monthly TFL travel card. To help you save even more money, the cycle2work tax break scheme has also been introduced, allowing you to buy a bike for up to 42% less than the usual cost.
Bikefix – Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3LJ
Brick Lane Bikes – Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6DG
Lock 7 – 129 Prichard’s Road, London, E2 9AP
Look Mum, No Hands! – 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX
Cyclelab – 18a Pitfield Street, N1 6EY
Rafa Cycle Club – 85 Brewer Street, W1F 9ZN
London Cycle: Maps and Routes (Free) – This shows you all the best cycle routes to get you through London
Cycle Hire (£0.69) – An app to locate your nearest Boris Bike station
Bike Repair (£2.49) – A useful tool that’s like having your own mechanic with you when you encounter a problem!
Image Credit: Barney Moss