There are plenty of traffic free or traffic-light cycle routes in London - and knowing the short-cuts can make crossing the metropolis a fun, quick and safe experience.
Personally, I recommend the canal towpaths. They're well maintained and you no longer need a towpath cycling permit from British Waterways. Cycling along these paths you can get from the outskirts to the centre of town in under an hour (faster than the buses). -- Aegidian
Most people, however, still use the main streets for most of their journeys, and if you are a reasonably skilled and confident cyclist these can be an excellent way of getting from A to B swiftly. The main drawback is when the main roads have been engineered only with motor traffic in mind, eg the big one-way systems like Aldgate and Hammersmith. Fortunately there is now a trend towards returning these systems to two-way working, eg the Shoreditch Triangle.
Lights are definitely a good idea. The law says that you must have a white light at the front and red light at the rear. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp. (Highway Code rule 60)
Reporting defective roads/pavements is most easily done centrally via Transport for London's Streetfaults service. Most London boroughs have a Cycling Officer who can give advice on local cycling routes (and may have cycling maps available), training and local events - contact the respective borough.
If you do cycle, do yourself a colossal favour and get hold of the relevant [London Cycle Guides]?; they're excellent bike maps, produced by Transport for London with some help from the [London Cycling Campaign]?. In fact, get them even if you don't cycle - they're basically the A to Z in single-sheet form, with bike routes highlighted. Order them online (see below) or pick them up at railway stations ([London Underground]? stations all carry the local map - look in their leaflet rack - and information desks at major mainline stations carry the complete set).
I'll add for now rather than rewrite the whole page, but the latter would be preferable long term...
Cycle recommendations - many commuters, including myself, prefer drop-handlebars for speed and comfort - a good s/h touring bike is strong, light and if lucky aboput the price of a cheap hybrid from a high-st chain. Any bike is better than none, but big thick tyres will slow you down, particularly if not pumped up regularly. Oil the chain and check brakes; you'll be amazed how much a bike overhaul will improve your journey. Good lights are essential - use rechargeable batteries - even Argos do a sealed lead-acid kit for £35 now. Respect other road users and (hopefully) they will respect you. Be seen to flout the highway code, and life gets worse for everyone. Red lights mean it is dangerous to cross; busy junctions are a place where rebellion is not cool in any form. Ride confidently and assertively - you're a vehicle with rights. Pannier bags are far more comfortable than a rucksack or shoulder bag - car boot sales are great places for bike bits like this.
- Progressive cycle coaching services Progressive Cycle Coaching offers free training articles, forum, testimonials, shop, and client area with in depth articles and client Programs. Contact the coach Dan Bennett about any training/racing issue. Services includes cycle coaching services, cycling coaching services, cycle coaching UK, best cycle coaching, cycle training services, cycle coaching programme, cycle training tips.
- The London Cycling Campaign has information about maps, bike buddies and the local cycling scene.
- Critical Mass London - "when a lot of cyclists happen to be in the same place at the same time and decide to cycle the same way together for a while"
- Croydon Cycling Campaign
- Southwark Cyclists
- Get the [London Cycle Guides]? online from TfL (alternatively order them via London Transport information on 020 7222 1234) or the LCC.
- Transport for London Street Management
- The London Cycle Network also supplies excellent maps of traffic-light cycle routes.
- Environmental Transport Association
- Shiply - Environmentally Friendly Transport
- Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, has information on routes that form part of the National Cycle Network.
- Cycling for All is a Croydon project to encourage and enable cycling using tricycles, particularly suitable for people with disabilities and special needs.
- Camden Cycling Campaign's Maps are Google maps showing official TfL cycle routes, park and canal routes and other recommended cycle routes throughout Inner London. Locations of shops, cycle parking and hazards to look out for are also shown.