Everything you need to know before peddling around the capital
Here at The London Northerner, we’re always asked one question:
“Is it safe to ride a bike in London?”
Yes, we reply.
Then we get asked:
Where can I find a cheap bike in London?
Facebook is your friend here. When it isn’t trying to steal your data, the social media platform is a cavern of two-wheeled wonders.
Be smart, don’t expect to much, and set a reasonable budget. The benefits of cycling in London are the flexibility and cost savings. If you overspend, you’ve already lost half of the benefits. This is the commute, not the Tour de France. And plus, you’ll need to save some bread for gloves and lights.
Take a look at the marketplace and be patient, you don’t want to make a trip to Bexleyheath alone in the dark for a stolen rust bucket. Repeat this question to yourself as you peruse your options: “how long will it last before it breaks and leaves me stranded alone in the rain, on the Old Kent Road in the dark?”.
All the gear; no idea
There’s only one place to get kitted out with your high-vis lycra spandex illuminous cycling gear. That place is Decathlon. The closest to the middle of London is the new Surrey Quays superstore. It’s a day out in itself and is 10 minutes from Tower Bridge by bus.
It’s possible to source; a helmet, a lock, some gloves, some undergloves (oh yes, you’ll be needing those!), a high vis waterproof, some shorts or lycra bottoms, some lights, a saddle bag for your spare innertube, and a basic repair kit for about £90. We know because we’ve done it.
This brings us to our final question.
How much does it cost to start cycling in London?
Less than £200 if you aren’t fussed about lap times at the Olympic Park and brand names don’t register highly on your list of priorities.
Tips and tricks
When planning a route, choose the one with the fewest traffic lights. These really ruin a rider’s flow. There are some very nice cycle routes from Brixton to Waterloo and from Canary Wharf to The City.
So, don your lycra and get ready to weave between the stagnant traffic. Be careful not to eat too much diesel as you go.