During lockdown we saw a growing wave of Londoners dusting off their neglected bikes and embracing cycling to get to work and discovering the city on two wheels. Indeed, many city dwellers have adapted to a more hygienic, climate friendly and health-improving mode of transportation that saves both- time and money. And with everything that’s currently happening, there’s never been a better time to ditch your old commute and learn how to cycle around the city safely.
So, we have looked at the best cycling schemes and classes, and best cycling routes near our developments to make you fall in love with city cycling.
Good to know
• Transport for London reports that 1.35 billion people use the London Underground every single year, with over 50% of commuters commuting by bus, train, or tube.
• Transport for London also said that membership of its cycle hire scheme had increased by 200% since March, with 85,000 new people signing up.
• According to Savills, nearly 20 miles of permanent cycling lanes have been added to London’s existing cycle lanes, alongside a greater number of temporary lanes and reduced car speed limits near the lanes.
No bike to dust off?
First things first, for those that don’t have a bike to dust off, buying one that you can rely on can be expensive. Then there is also the cost of insurance, maintenance and all the accessories, like helmets and locks to take into consideration. For those that can’t afford to buy a bike outright, there are many affordable options that offer bikes and bike subscriptions in London. We have looked at the best ones out there.
Buzzbike is the practical, all-in-one solution that will make cycling a whole lot easier. Founded by two friends, Tom Hares and Andy Nunn in 2016, the tech-driven cycle scheme offers bike subscriptions to Londoners. For £29.99 (or from £17 per month on the Buzzbike to Work scheme), Buzzbike members get access to a premium bike, along with protection against theft, on-demand maintenance and a fun app which encourages you to get riding.
More Londoners than ever have taken advantage of this scheme during the last few months, with Buzzbike seeing a 440% increase in bike subscriptions since the beginning of lockdown. So, it’s definitely worth giving it a go.
Bamboo Bicycle Club
Founded in 2012, Bamboo Bicycle Club have been helping people build cutting-edge bamboo bikes from scratch that are designed for everyday commutes or cycling around the world. The process is very simple: the company sends a bicycle kit to your home, to allow you to assemble a sustainable bike of bamboo that can be completely recycled after many years of usage. There are no special tools needed and you also get an in-depth manual, and video, as well as human, support.
They also offer bike building weekend workshops in Canning town, London. The workshops are based around inclusivity and a desire to create the best bike possible. Fun fact: since it was established, the club has joined the Prime Minister in the cabinet rooms for the launch of the Tour de France. They are planning to re-open for workshops in October, limited to a maximum of 3 people.
The popular folding bike company Brompton has recently launched a bike subscription offering an annual subscription for £30 a month or flexi-30 day subscription for £42 a month. Both subscriptions include insurance to cover accidental damage and theft. If you haven’t ridden one of their bikes yet, it’s a bike that’s built for those who live or work in cities. It folds, so you can pop it in the car or on the train or fold it away under your desk at work. So practical!
Become a confident city cyclist
The truth is, cycling in London is a bit like going from Victoria Station to London Bridge on the tube without a map: you need to know how to navigate the city to get it right. For that reason, the idea of commuting to work by bike or just cycling around the city can feel intimidating. For many of us it has taken the global pandemic to finally get over this fear. But for those who are still unsure and want to work on their cycling skills, there are schemes that offer cycle training courses and safety tips in London.
Cycle Skills is a Transport for London scheme offering free cycle training for all abilities. Whether you’re a new or regular cyclist, you can take their online course or learn one-to-one with a qualified instructor. Cycle Skills is the first online course to cover everything from getting your bike ready for a ride to tips on cycling with children. The best part is that it’s specifically tailored to cycling in London, and if you sign up for their online course, you receive 24-hour access of the Santander Cycles rental bikes for completing the course.
Cycle Confident has been around since 2007, aiming to enable more Londoners to enjoy cycling in the city by equipping them with the skills to feel confident and safe when doing so. Training courses range from learning to ride and cycling in rush hour to how to look after your bike.
Cycling Safety Tips
When it comes to cycling in London, safety is always first. Always wear a helmet, invest in a light and some reflective clothing if you’re planning on cycling in the dark. These tips will help you cycle safely through the city:
• Learn to signal correctly
• Leave plenty of room for lorries and parked cars
• Don’t cycle on the pavement unless it’s clearly marked for use by cyclists
• When waiting at a junction position yourself in the middle of the lane
• Always plan your route
Best cycling routes near our developments
The shift from more traditional modes of transport to commuting by bike, has also changed the priorities of home movers. A recent survey found that for 45% of Londoners, living within walking or cycling distance of work was important. Also, 35% of respondents said that having access to green open spaces was a high priority for them. There are many beautiful cycling routes near our developments as well as cycling clubs and workshops that you can join.
Our favourite route in Camden follows the Regent’s Canal through to Little Venice. This scenic route is home to not only beautiful waterways, but an array of cafes and bars with fantastic views, offering a relaxing cycle through Islington and London Zoo. Anyone who lives in Camden can also join the Camden Cyclist Campaign, with monthly meetings and regular website updates about the best local cycling routes. During summer months, they also organise a ride each month, including the popular Lee Valley Ride.
The Lane, Tottenham
If you’re looking for a family-friendly off-road ride then Tottenham Marshes is perfect for you. This 7-mile route through serene surroundings and diverse wildlife, will make you feel like you have escaped the city for a day. You can also enjoy beautiful views of the River Lea and look out for Kingfishers, Field Voles and Bee Orchids.
Discovery, Highams Park
Discovery benefits from many fantastic cycle routes on its doorstep. Epping Forest, probably one of London’s most underrated cycling areas, is perfect for anyone wanting to get away from the capital. Completely away from traffic and with well-marked cycle routes, these paths will lead you through the beautiful forest with lots of places to rest. There, you will feel like you are a world away from the capital.
Other great areas for cycling near Discovery include Walthamstow Marshes, Waltham Forest and Highams Park Lake.
With more than 50 beautiful, leafy parks and open spaces, Synergy offers the best of both worlds and many cycling routes. Our favourite one is cycling through Greenwich Park. This route offers beautiful views over Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena. The best part about cycling around this area is that there are plenty of other cycle routes that start from Greenwich, such as Quietway 1 and the Jubilee Greenway. So, if you’re up for a challenge, you can always extend your cycle by choosing one of these routes. Near Synergy, you can also cycle from the Jacobean-era Charlton House, only a mile away from the development, across Charlton Park and through Maryon Wilson Park. There are also many cycling clubs close to Synergy. Charlton Women’s Cycling Club in Hornfair Park is a social cycling group for women, with social rides and cycle skills sessions running after school drop-off time every Monday.
It's time to embrace cycling
Cycling is evidentially having a moment now, with urban planners making changes and leaders encouraging city dwellers to hop on their bikes. It’s a positive shift and hopefully a moment that lasts.