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  1. #1
    Junior Member LondonRob's Avatar
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    Best part of London for biking?

    Howdy,

    I'm about to relocate to London in 2 weeks. I've never lived in the UK before. (From the USA originally.) I'll be working near Covent Garden, and I would ideally like to try to commute to work as much as possible by bike (a new Cannondale Touring 2 I just ordered and will be picking up 2 weeks from today -- can't wait!).

    My question is, what part of London is most bike-friendly? Are there a concentration of bike paths in certain parts of London? If I want to bike to central London, is there a preferred origination point? Is there a part of London that makes it easy to get out into the surrounding area on bike? Since I basically have no pre-existing connection with London, I could settle anywhere, and I figured it might as well be a bike-friendlier part of town.

    Many thanks for any suggestions!
    Rob
    Cycling newbie, London newbie. Hoping to commute by bike and do some bike touring in the British Isles and continental Europe...

  2. #2
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    https://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/roadusers...es/default.asp

    If you're bringing a new bike into the UK you might get hit for VAT. Try to dirty it up a bit before you pack it up.

  3. #3
    Junior Member LondonRob's Avatar
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    Thanks Johnny Monkey. I've been making extensive use of that website over the last week as I plot potential routes for a bike commute in London. Unfortunately, the maps themselves can only be shipped to a UK address, and I'm not there yet. So it's rather difficult for me to gauge what parts of London might be more bike-friendly than others. If anyone has thoughts on that question, I'd love to hear them! :-)

    I'll definitely tool around on the bike a few days before boxing it up for the flight to London, so it should at least have some evidence of use. But yeah, that would totally stink after having already paid sales tax in the US on it...
    Cycling newbie, London newbie. Hoping to commute by bike and do some bike touring in the British Isles and continental Europe...

  4. #4
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    Richmond Park is a great place for leisure cycling around in south west London. Suitable for road & mountain bikes. You can also get onto the Thames Path quite easily which is very scenic. Also whatever part of London you're in you can always hope on a train at the weekend to head out to your preferred area to cycle around.

    Cycling in central London is an experience! There's not really any sensible cycle paths so you'll be cycling on the road with mainly buses, vans & taxis as your companions (plus other bike users). I think in the last year or so there's been a big increase in cycling commuters. There's a lot of bike theft in London & I personally would be reluctant to commute on anything too fancy if I didn't have secure parking for it.

    If you google bikeradar you'll find that helpful. It' more UK/London based.

    Enjoy!

    Cheers

  5. #5
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    What's your housing budget Rob? You might find that governs where you live more than anything.

    When I was there we lived in Chiswick because a) I could walk to work; b) it's a bit more spacious and greener; c) We could get a 3 bedroom townhouse for 500 per week (our housing budget); d) it is only 6km from Richmond Park, where I used to do most of my riding and; e) it's a nice place to live.

  6. #6
    Junior Member LondonRob's Avatar
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    Hi Joeycamp!

    Thanks so much for the suggestions! Richmond Park looks great, and I'm checking out bikeradar now. I'm sort of hoping some of this hype I'm hearing about the increase in cyclists and bike commuters in London might be true. They're also supposedly creating 900km of bike paths in London by 2009/2010, as well as new radial bike "highways" into the center of London from the surrounding regions. I'm hoping that this, combined with the new bike hire scheme (similar to the Velibs in Paris) they're rolling out next year might really make London much more bike-friendly over the next couple of years.

    Bike theft definitely scares me, and I'm hoping that perhaps I'll be able to bring my bike into my office with me -- we'll see...

    Cheers,
    Rob
    Cycling newbie, London newbie. Hoping to commute by bike and do some bike touring in the British Isles and continental Europe...

  7. #7
    Junior Member LondonRob's Avatar
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    Heya Johnny Monkey!

    I'm thinking my housing budget would be about 1500 per month if I wind up living alone (I'd like to spend less than that if I'm sharing -- I could do either, as I have a friend who would like to share an apt with me if possible). Chiswick appears to be about 7 miles to my office, which seems a reasonable commute to me, if it's not an especially bike-hostile route.

    My employer will be providing me with housing for a month, so that should give me some opportunity to bike around a bit and explore different neighborhoods and test commuting routes, but I figured the more research I could do ahead of time, the better.

    Cheers,
    Rob
    Cycling newbie, London newbie. Hoping to commute by bike and do some bike touring in the British Isles and continental Europe...

  8. #8
    Senior Member thePig's Avatar
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    Hi London Rob,

    Great that you are about to move to london. Richmond Park is fantastic for training rides - I live about 500m away so use it all the time. However it is not really going to help with your commute.

    The 2 logical areas to live (nicer, generally lower probability of death, less chance of bike getting stolen etc) are just North of london around Hampstead or anywhere in the SW direction from London - includes Fulham, Putney, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Richmond. All nice places.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Scotty_Iscariot's Avatar
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    I quite like the ride in fae Lewisham to the City. Not that i'm suggesting that you should live here on that budget. But I would recommend Greenwich/Blackheath quite highly. It's nice,relaxed and has quite a few different ways that you can vary your route into the city with. Big flats(to live in AND ride) too as a rule. That and the fact that Greenwich park is right there on your doorstep. Also you are on a good train route into Charing Cross for when the weather is foul which would give you no more than a 5 min walk to work(this is a plus in this city I assure you).

    Other advice:

    buy a helmet
    wear High viz stuff
    watch the traffic for a few days before you decide to ride in.See how the road user's differ in style in this city-cos they ain't normal by any means of the word.
    I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.
    -- Kurt Vonnegut, Inc. Technology No. 4, 1995

  10. #10
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty_Iscariot View Post
    I quite like the ride in fae Lewisham to the City. Not that i'm suggesting that you should live here on that budget. But I would recommend Greenwich/Blackheath quite highly. It's nice,relaxed and has quite a few different ways that you can vary your route into the city with. Big flats(to live in AND ride) too as a rule. That and the fact that Greenwich park is right there on your doorstep. Also you are on a good train route into Charing Cross for when the weather is foul which would give you no more than a 5 min walk to work(this is a plus in this city I assure you).

    Other advice:

    buy a helmet
    wear High viz stuff
    watch the traffic for a few days before you decide to ride in.See how the road user's differ in style in this city-cos they ain't normal by any means of the word.
    I'd be inclined to live somewhere near the tube, just for the convenience (preferably the Piccadilly Line).

  11. #11
    Senior Member Scotty_Iscariot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Monkey View Post
    I'd be inclined to live somewhere near the tube, just for the convenience (preferably the Piccadilly Line).
    Aye this may be so. But that also means you pay that wee bit more whereas if you live out Greenwich/Blackheath you have good area's and more often than not a fast train into the city(if you work 'normal' hours that is) for a decent price. Hell if I was working in the City i'd be a Camden liver so I cannae really comment. I only live this way for the ease of cycling to work-comin fae Camden just wouldn't be sensible.
    I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different.
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  12. #12
    Still can't climb
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    Quote Originally Posted by LondonRob View Post
    Howdy,

    I'm about to relocate to London in 2 weeks. I've never lived in the UK before. (From the USA originally.) I'll be working near Covent Garden, and I would ideally like to try to commute to work as much as possible by bike (a new Cannondale Touring 2 I just ordered and will be picking up 2 weeks from today -- can't wait!).

    My question is, what part of London is most bike-friendly? Are there a concentration of bike paths in certain parts of London? If I want to bike to central London, is there a preferred origination point? Is there a part of London that makes it easy to get out into the surrounding area on bike? Since I basically have no pre-existing connection with London, I could settle anywhere, and I figured it might as well be a bike-friendlier part of town.

    Many thanks for any suggestions!
    Rob

    Check out this site which administrates the cycling routes in UK. http://www.sustrans.org.uk/

    It's useful for finding pleasant routes. Probably better for out of london pleasure cycling than London commuting. As for riding in London, forget about cycle lanes which are more often just a painted part of the road with parked cars rather than seperate paths. You'll have to get used to riding in amongst the traffic but the bus lanes (open to bicycles) are good.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Matt Gaunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thePig View Post
    Hi London Rob,

    Great that you are about to move to london. Richmond Park is fantastic for training rides - I live about 500m away so use it all the time. However it is not really going to help with your commute.

    The 2 logical areas to live (nicer, generally lower probability of death, less chance of bike getting stolen etc) are just North of london around Hampstead or anywhere in the SW direction from London - includes Fulham, Putney, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Richmond. All nice places.
    +1. I live in Putney (when in London) and do laps round Richmond Park either in the mornings before work (lovely but the 5am wake-up is far from fantastic) or after work (busier). It's a lovely place to ride but you really have to use big gears on the hills to keep the climbing in order.

    I'm moving back to the UK in a few weeks and am looking forward to doing the laps again. Maybe a few of us should organise a BF Richmond Park event? What do people think?
    Matt
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  14. #14
    Senior Member thePig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Gaunt View Post
    +1. I live in Putney (when in London) and do laps round Richmond Park either in the mornings before work (lovely but the 5am wake-up is far from fantastic) or after work (busier). It's a lovely place to ride but you really have to use big gears on the hills to keep the climbing in order.

    I'm moving back to the UK in a few weeks and am looking forward to doing the laps again. Maybe a few of us should organise a BF Richmond Park event? What do people think?
    Sounds like a great idea......unfortunately I will have left by then :-(
    Maybe I will have to try and organise something similar in Sydney.

    If you are looking to join a group, there is a regular group that ride around Richmond Park called London Dynamo. http://www.londondynamo.co.uk/
    www.cyclepig.com - discover the world on two wheels

  15. #15
    Senior Member Matt Gaunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thePig View Post
    Sounds like a great idea......unfortunately I will have left by then :-(
    Maybe I will have to try and organise something similar in Sydney.

    If you are looking to join a group, there is a regular group that ride around Richmond Park called London Dynamo. http://www.londondynamo.co.uk/
    I should join really. I usually tag onto randoms or they tag onto me, which is cool, but the group thing does help with motivation. I'll check the link out - thanks for the tip.
    Matt
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    Hi
    The best bit of cycling in London for me by a mile was along Regents canal - I rode the section from near Portobello/Notting Hill to Kings Cross regularly - incuding often in the summer months at around about 5am alone as the sun came up - bliss.

    Only slight downside was when canal boat owners will lock sections by their boats even though as far as I knew cyclists had right of way. Generally just facilitated a slight detour before getting back onto canal. Get a permit (free) from london waterways or something - google regents canal permit...
    ** wishes I was 'zac fit' **

  17. #17
    kkp
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    No part of london is commuter friendly!

    For commuting..
    There are a smattering of bike lanes .. more in central london and suburbs.

    You can use bus lanes for traffic free cycling ..

    For recreational riding..

    Most places outside london (in any direction) are great for cycling.. for me the favourite area
    is Chiltens .. near Marlow on River Thames.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Matt Gaunt's Avatar
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    Worst place for cycling is East London. Anywhere. I was at the girlfriend's flat last night. During an hour and a half, I had smacked a good 5 or so pot holes due to traffic being so close and the road surface being so poor, had a woman shout at me for cycling too near her on a zebra crossing (fair enough but I had just been blinded by dust from a passing bus) and got attacked by every sort of pollen in Victoria Park. I like the ride round the park, but 1) it's a bit short for laps (but doable) and 2) the surface is absolutely terrible. I had vibration white finger (and feet) after an hour in there.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrgh!! I need to get back to my flat asap! Richmond Park and the route to and from it is fantastic. Best cycling in/near central London by a very wide margin.
    Matt
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  19. #19
    Still can't climb
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    Another good place for laps is the outer circle of Regent's park

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    I have lived all over London and found the East to be reasonably bikeable with plenty of back streets if you take the trouble to explore. The canal from Angel out past Victoria Park and up the Lea river valley is good for relaxing (but slow) commuting.
    There are a number of pinch points into central London (ie inside the circle line) that can be problematic for cyclists. These may have altered since I lived there but I would avoid Swiss Cottage (NW of regents park) and Elephant and Castle (SE of the Thames).
    Your new 'dale sounds like a thief magnet. Many Londoners use a hack bike for everyday riding, ie a good-enough new bike or a nice old bike with tough, simple components.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Matt Gaunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    I have lived all over London and found the East to be reasonably bikeable with plenty of back streets if you take the trouble to explore. The canal from Angel out past Victoria Park and up the Lea river valley is good for relaxing (but slow) commuting.
    There are a number of pinch points into central London (ie inside the circle line) that can be problematic for cyclists. These may have altered since I lived there but I would avoid Swiss Cottage (NW of regents park) and Elephant and Castle (SE of the Thames).
    Your new 'dale sounds like a thief magnet. Many Londoners use a hack bike for everyday riding, ie a good-enough new bike or a nice old bike with tough, simple components.
    The East is bikeable to a point, just not fast. I do take that point. My problem is that I need to train for sportives. Cycling slowly therefore is not what I'm looking to do. Thanks for the tip though.
    Matt
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LondonRob View Post
    Heya Johnny Monkey!

    I'm thinking my housing budget would be about 1500 per month if I wind up living alone (I'd like to spend less than that if I'm sharing -- I could do either, as I have a friend who would like to share an apt with me if possible). Chiswick appears to be about 7 miles to my office, which seems a reasonable commute to me, if it's not an especially bike-hostile route.

    My employer will be providing me with housing for a month, so that should give me some opportunity to bike around a bit and explore different neighborhoods and test commuting routes, but I figured the more research I could do ahead of time, the better.

    Cheers,
    Rob
    Hi, did you make the move yet ? If so what part of town did you end up living in ?

  23. #23
    Junior Member LondonRob's Avatar
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    Hi Diode100!

    Thanks so much for following up!! I'm finally in my new flat! In fact, tonight is the first night I'm staying in it. :-) I finally wound settling on a flat near Earls Court, on Coleherne Road. In the end, it was more based on the range of flats I saw and I liked this one the best. I looked in locations all over the city. I stayed the last 6 weeks in a flat near the Bond Street Tube station provided by my employer. It was a nice flat, but they were ridiculously strict and wouldn't let me keep my bike in the flat unless it stayed in the box. (I picked up the bike in Florida and then flew with it to London in early June, so I haven't been able to use it once in all that time.) Now that I'm finally in my own flat, I'm anxious to get the bike out of the box and put back together, but I don't have the expertise nor tools to do that on my own, so I need to find a bike shop nearby to re-assemble the bike for me. The closest shop is Cyclopedia on Fulham Road, I think -- but I just checked their website and it says they charge 75 for putting a bike together, which seems a bit high to me. I was hoping to pay someone a third of that or less. :-(

    Anyways, I'm sure it's just a matter of days now before I've got my bike up and running, and then I can start checking out all the spots folks have mentioned on this thread! :-)

    Cheers,
    Rob
    Cycling newbie, London newbie. Hoping to commute by bike and do some bike touring in the British Isles and continental Europe...

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