London is fast becoming one of the world’s most cyclist-friendly cities. There are cycling highways running through the centre of the city, dedicated cycling lanes through Hyde Park and idyllic cycling paths alongside London’s many canals.
Cycling is a fabulous way to get around London efficiently, while keeping fit and healthy. It also saves you money and offers an exhilarating sense of freedom. There are however a few vital safety tips to keep in mind as you traverse your way across the capital. We chat to Zoe Spiliopoulou, the Lead Urban Designer at Sustrans London, about her top recommended tips for cycling around the city. Zoe has been cycling around London for the last three years.
1. Know the Road
Never jump red lights, keep a reasonable distance between you and parked cars and remember it takes longer to stop in bad weather.
2. See & Be Seen
Cycling in the middle of the road or “taking the lane” is often the best way to ensure your visibility. As a cyclist, you have as much ownership of the road as a motorist. Use lights at the back and front of your bike when it’s dark, signal clearly and ride where you can see and be seen. Some cyclists choose to wear high-visibility reflective clothing. If motorists can see you, they can avoid you.
3. Be Alert
Pedestrians stepping out into the road or vehicles turning suddenly are some of the unpredictable things that can take you by surprise on the road. It’s therefore vital that you look around regularly to understand the intentions of other road users.
4. Sign up for Cycle Training
This is a fun and easy way to develop your skills and increase your confidence on busier routes. You’ll learn many key skills such as good road positioning, signalling and visibility. Even the most experienced cyclist is guaranteed to learn something new. Have a look here or check for courses run by your council – these are often provided free of charge.
By following these basic rules you can really start to enjoy your rides and use your bike for everyday journeys to work, school or to visit friends. Zoe is an avid fan of Quietways which allows you to opt for quieter routes to get to your London destinations. The National Cycle Network is another useful resource for finding thousands of miles of traffic-free routes.
For more advice and inspiration visit www.sustrans.org.uk