Ideas for cycle rides
Cycling on the road can become a bit repetitive, fortunately there are a few great places to cycle around London that offer greenery and cycle-ways appropriate for children, some that are completely car-free.
You can cycle through most of London’s inner-city parks as long as you follow the particular rules on which lanes you are allowed to cycle, including: Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, St. James’ Park, Regents Park, Victoria Park and Battersea Park. (Click here for a more detailed guide https://www.goldentours.com/travelblog/where-to-cycle-in-londons-parks)
London’s largest enclosed space and probably the most naturally beautiful, Richmond Park is a very popular destination for cyclists especially on the weekend. The park offers several miles of road and off-road riding, which are both shared with a large population of wild deer. The park is easily accessible at Richmond station by the Overground or the District line, which will permit you to bring your bike. There is also availability to hire bikes within the park.
If you would like an experienced cyclist to help show you around your local area and some nice cycle routes then sign up for our bike buddies scheme!
If cycling off of the road on paved surfaces is more your thing, London has a handful of velodromes and road circuits that offer sessions for adults, children and family groups.
Lee Valley Velopark
Constructed for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, the Lee Valley cycling centre has on and off road tracks and a BMX circuit. The road-circuit ‘Pay and ride’ sessions are £5 for an adult and do not require booking however, it is best to check their website calendar as sometimes the circuit will be closed for private events or maintenance.
There are also a lot of very good free routes around the Lee Valley area which feature cycling around historic landmarks, canals, forest and wildlife; click here for a number of different routes:
Bikes are available to hire at an extra cost and the park is accessible via Stratford station on the Underground and the Overground.
Redbridge Cycling Centre
Located a half an hour cycle from Romford next to Hainault Forest Country Park, the Redbridge Cycling centre has a road-circuit, a Mountain bike track and a BMX circuit with bike hire. The entrance fee is generally £4.60 for an adult and £3.00 for a child depending on which circuit you want to use.
The centre is open daily but it is best to check the website calendar as the circuits may be closed for racing events!
How to keep your bike secure
Bike theft is very common in the UK. It is very important to lock up your bike everytime you leave it, only if it's just for a few minutes. Try not to leave your locked bike out in public for longer than you need to.
Here are a few tips for keeping your bike secure:
- Do not leave it overnight or for too long
- Lock your bike to a solid object (not a tree or bench!)
- Lock your bike somewhere busy and well-lit
- If you can, lock your bike through the frame and one of your wheels, this will make it more difficult to steal.
- Bring your lights, helmet and other accessories with you!
- Use a good qualty lock like 'Kyptonite' or 'Abus'. Make sure that if you have a spare key to your lock that you keep it somewhere safe at home in case you lose the one you carry.
Free cycle training
Many councils offers free cycle training for adults, kids and families. To find out about cycle lessons in your local area search in Google for:
<your borough> free cycling lessons
e.g. Southwark free cycling lessons
If you are unsure about cycling lessons in your areas, we are happy to help you. Contact us for more information.
Visit the TFL website for further information about free cycling lessons in London.
We also have a range of cycle training videos on our Youtube channel.
Checking your bike is safe
Before cycling it is important to check that your bike is safe to ride.
Here are the different parts of your bike:
- Check that the saddle does not move and is fixed at the correct height. This should be high enough so your legs can reach the bottom of the peddle stroke, and low enough that you can stand when the bike comes to a stop. The saddle can be adjusted with an allen key or a wrench. Watch a video about how to adjust your saddle.
- Check both brakes are working well and you are able to reach them when riding the bike.
- Check the wheels are attached firmly and do not wobble.
- Check the tyre pressure. The correct tyre pressure will be written on the side of the tyre. If you do not have a pump you can take the bike to a bike shop and ask to use one. If your tyre is flat and you can't inflate it then you’ve got a puncture. Watch a video about how to fix a puncture.
- Check the chain is turning smoothly and not slipping on the chainring or the cogs at the back.
Planning your route
If you have access to a computer or smartphone with internet or data then you can use online apps such as:
Alternatively, you can use street map signs to get around, they can be found outside train stations, bus stops and major landmarks.
Roads tend to be more busy from 6:00am – 10:00am in the morning and 4:00 – 6:30pm in the evening. If you are new to cycling on the road then it is best to avoid these times if you can and cycle when it is quieter and more pleasant!
What clothing to wear when cycling
Wear bright and reflective clothing when you ride your bike so that other road users can easily see you. Reflective gear can be as simple as a leg/arm band or a vest you can wear over your top. It is a cheap and effective way to make your cycling a lot safer.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you are happy to exercise in. Remember you'll warm up as you cycle.
Check the weather forecast before you leave and take a waterproof jacket if you expect wet weather.
For added safety you should tuck in any loose clothing and shoe-laces so that they do not get caught in the moving parts of the bike.
What to bring on a bike ride
Mechanical problems with your bike can happen even on short journeys, so it's best to be prepared. There are a few things that you should bring with you when cycling. These are:
- A small hand-pump
- Tyre levers
- A spare inner tube
- Puncture repair kit (patches, glue, sandpaper, crayon)
- Allen keys / wrenches that fit your bike
- Bike lights
- Your bike lock and key
- A bottle of water
Rules for cycling in the UK
When cycling you must obey all traffic rules, this means:
- Never cycle on the pavement
- Stop at red traffic lights
- Signal with your arms before you intend to turn or change lanes
If it is dark or very cloudy then you must have lights on your bike at the front and the rear.
You should try to keep your front light pointed slightly down towards the road so as you are not blinding oncoming traffic!
It is recommended that you keep to the left when cycling on the road and you try not to undertake traffic, especially large vehicles like Buses, Vans and Lorries, as they will not always be able to see you or be checking their mirrors.
An added risk to cycling on the left is the possibility of traffic in front of you suddenly turning into you. Unfortunately, you cannot assume that all drivers will be responsible enough to indicate and check their mirrors, therefore it is very important that you be cautious at junctions and always keep a safe distance from traffic in front and never try to pass through a small gap between traffic and the side of the road.
Cycling on the road can be daunting but by following these guidelines you will be riding safely and be able to gain the necessary confidence to be on the road. An important point to remember is that you have a right be on the road and the right to the space you occupy, other road users are required by law to respect this right and give you plenty of space. If you do not feel confident on the road consider further cycle training.
For more information about whats legal and non-legal on your bike, visit www.cyclinguk.org/article/whats-legal-and-whats-not-your-bike
Taking your bike on public transport
Visit the Travel For London website for full information about taking your bicycle on public transport.
You are able to take your bike on overground trains if you travel outside rush house. You cannot take your bike on these trains between 7:30 – 9:30am and 16:00 – 19:00 from Monday to Friday.
You can take your bike on a limited part of the underground. Visit content.tfl.gov.uk/bicycles-on-public-transport.pdf for a map.
There are no rules that say you cannot take your bike on a bus, however, it is up to the driver’s discretion and will often depend on how busy the bus is. It would be best not to rely on the driver’s kindness, but there is no harm in asking!
What to do if your bike has a problem
If you have a problem with your bike or are worried that your bike isn't safe to ride, don't use it.
We are always happy to repair your bike free of charge whenever you have a problem with it.
You can bring your bike to our workshop in Deptford every Thursday between 5pm - 7pm. The address for our workshop is:
The Bike Project Workshop
Arches 223 - 224, Edward Street, London, SE8 5HD
Open Monday to Friday 0900 – 1600
If you are not able to come to our workshop on a Thursday afternoon, please contact us to arrange a different time.
If you are not able to bring your bike to our workshop in Deptford, we may be able to recommend one of our Pit Stop Partners who can carry out small repairs for free. Contact us for further information.
There are a number of other community run workshops around London that focus on bringing people together to fix bikes!
56a Bikespace Workshop
56a Crampton street Elephant and Castle SE17 3AE
Open Wednesday and Friday 15:00 – 19:00
Tower Hamlets Wheelers
Limehouse Town Hall, 646 Commerical Road E14 7HA
The workshop sessions are held on the third Saturday of every month from 11:00 to 15:00
Hackney Bike Workshop
Hackney City farm, 1A Goldsmiths Row E2 8QA
Workshop sessions are held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month from 19:00 to 21:00 in the evening.
How to fix a puncture
How to keep your bike working well
There are a few tasks that you will need to do to keep your bike running smoothly, the first and most basic task is keeping it clean and oiled.
To clean your bike you will need to find an outdoor space where water can drain, like a balcony or garden. If you do not have access to such an area, you can use a public/communal space.
Over time the drive-train (chain, chain-rings, cassette and derailleurs) will gather dirt from the road which bonds to the grease turning the chain black causing it to not work very well. How long this takes will depend on how much you cycle and if you cycle in the rain, which will tend to speed up this process. It makes sense to clean the drive-train before the rest of the bike as cleaning the chain will tend to make a lot of mess!
To clean your bike you will need:
- A bucket
- Hot water
- A couple big sponges
- Some washing up liquid
- A degreaser spray, WD-40 is a cheap and common example.
- Chain oil (you can buy from a bike shop)
- A big bottle of water or watering can
- An old cloth or rag, if not paper towels
- Spray all parts of the drive-train with the degreaser whilst turning the pedals backwards making sure it is all covered, leave for at least 5 minutes for the degreaser to do its job.
- While waiting, fill a bucket with hot water and some washing up liquid.
- Using the sponge and the soapy water scrub the drive-train, you should begin to see the dirty grease come off. Keep going until the chain returns to its original colour.
- You can now use another sponge to clean the rest of the bike (you may need to replace the soapy water if it is too dirty).
- Once you have given the whole bike a going-over, you can rinse the whole bike with cold water from a bottle or watering can making sure to remove all of the soap.
- You can leave your bike outside to dry or you can dry it with an old rag or t-shirt.
- It is important to dry the drive-train thoroughly removing any residual substances from the chain as these will interfere with the new oil.
- Your chain oil will either come as a spray or a liquid, make sure a small amount is applied to every link in the chain and spread it out using a piece of kitchen towel.
- Rotate the chain backwards for about 20 seconds to spread the oil then leave for 5 minutes.
- Finally, use some kitchen towel or a dry rag to remove any excess oil by holding the towel to the chain whilst turning the pedals backwards for another 20 seconds or so.
Congratulations, your bike is clean and ready to hit the road again!