Explore the city from all angles, save money on transport, and get ample exercise doing it? Get on your bike!
Many Londoners rediscovered the joys of cycling during lockdown and are now hooked.
To make the most of your rides, there are a few basic recommendations, such as always wear a helmet and, especially if riding at night, use lights and reflective clothing. A bell is also useful, to alert pedestrians in areas where the path is shared. It is essential that you keep your bike in good working order—be sure to keep an eye on your brakes and tyres. What if I don’t own a bicycle? No problem: there are several public rental stations throughout the city.
The UK supports inclusive cycling, and websites like Cycling For All are full of useful information on the subject. Wheels for Wellbeing is a London-based charity that supports people with “special needs cycling” in London. London Recumbents offers specialist bicycle rentals for disabled users in Dulwich Park and Battersea Park.
Ready? Let’s get pedalling!
River Thames: The river’s banks offer long stretches without traffic, ideal for cycling. Most of the bike path is part of the Thames Path National Trail. This path is one of 19 designated national trails in the UK and runs from the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds to Greenwich. Cycling is allowed along most of these stretches, but some of them require a special permit. Check the Canal & River Trust website.
There are also long routes along two Thames tributaries. In the northeast, Lee Valley provides 42km without traffic. For more information, visit the Lee Valley Park website. In the southwest, the Wandle River is an area that was once heavily industrialised but now offers an almost traffic-free ride along the river, connecting Wandsworth, Merton, Croydon and Sutton.
Dulwich Park: Created in 1890 and covering 70 hectares, you can rent a bike in this beautiful park if you prefer to take the train to get there (although it is only five minutes from the city centre). With options for the whole family, including a playground, lakes, tennis courts and ping-pong tables, there is also the Pavilion Café, right in the middle of the park, where an ice cream is the perfect choice on a hot summer’s day.
Borough Market and Covent Garden: For a fun-filled day, start out at Borough Market, the city’s oldest fruit and vegetable market. Take a backpack so you can snag some bargains. Then head to Covent Garden for some window shopping. To complete the day, we recommend a visit to the nearby London Transport Museum.
Neal’s Yard: Literally around the corner from Covent Garden, you’ll find plenty of shops to explore, as well as other vibrant goings-on. If you need to put your feet up after too much cycling, the region is replete with bars and eateries offering coffee, wine and nibbles.