Cycling in London

Cycling in London
Looking for information about cycling in London? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in London gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the capital.

For cycling, as for many things, London is in a class of its own. The sheer volume of cycle commuters is astonishing to the visitor: Blackfriars Bridge at rush hour for instance carries more people on bikes than any other form of transport. 
All cycling tribes are here waiting with you at the lights. Lycra speedsters on three-grand road machines, office suits on Bromptons, casualwear trundlers, couriers on fixies, cargo trikes, child-trailers, tourists on chunky hire bikes... 

The topography is mostly flat, the weather’s mild and distances are manageable, and for many, cycling is the best way to get around work-hard, play-hard London – vastly preferable to slow buses, expensive taxis and crammed trains.  

Infrastructure is patchy in quality though, and the busy roads demand alertness and confidence. The UK’s best utility cycle paths are here in the shape of the growing North-South and East-West Cycle Superhighways, which are segregated, safe, fast, and sometimes even wide enough. The rest of the CS network that covers the capital though is often little more than over-engineered junctions linked by strips of blue paint. Still, they can make finding your way round straightforward, especially for the visitor. There’s also a developing system of Quietways, through calmer back streets – look for the ‘Q’. 

It’s not all A to B stuff. There’s plenty of fabulous leisure riding as well. Family-friendly, smooth canal towpaths between Tower Bridge and Islington via Victoria Park, or Limehouse and the Olympic Park, are a delight. The Thames Path is cyclable almost all its way through London, from Teddington to Dartford: you need a map but it’s a ride of unmatched must-sees, with many child-friendly stretches. London is full of parks, too, many of them great for bikes (eg Hyde Park). You certainly can cycle with kids in London, but you need to do your homework.

The London Hire Bike scheme, currently sponsored by Santander, enables anyone to pedal round the city cheaply and conveniently. Docking stations saturate the place, though during rush hour finding a bike at your departure point – or a vacant dock at your destination – will be a challenge.

There are many vigorous and accomplished cycle campaigning groups, based in their borough (Southwark, Lambeth, Hackney, City etc) and a bewildering range of bike bloggers, activists, organisers, movers and shakers. There’s nowhere in the world more exciting than London to be an everyday cyclist. 

Cycling groups and cycling clubs in London 

Cycling UK member groups: 

Central London CTC (London)

Weekend all-day rides for all abilities in the countryside around London

CTC South West London

Saturday beginners group, Sunday and midweek longer distance rides from 20 - 70 miles.  

Affliated groups and clubs

Bigfoot Bike Club* (Bromley)

Sportives, races, MTB, cyclocross, Audax, triathlons, time trials in Bromley and beyond

Redbridge CC (Hainault)

Sunday rides including easy pace with cafe stop; also non-stop rides, time trials, road races

Hainault Roads Club (Hainault)

Southgate Cycling Club (Barnet)

Barnet Cyclists (Barnet)

Enjoy the peace of the countryside, good food and a relaxed social atmosphere

Willesden CC (Brent)

Audax, time trials, track racing, triathlons, club runs, MTB, touring and social events

HotxBuns (Bromley)

Annual fundraising cycle ride of 100+ miles around Easter

Time to Cycle (Camden)

CBRE Cycling Club (Camden)

Ov Cycling Club (Camden)

Greenwich Islamic Centre (Greenwich)

Rides on Sundays

Limited Edition Cycling (Greenwich)

Living Under One Sun Bike Club (Haringey)

Hounslow & District Wheelers (Staines)

Racing and sporting cycling club offering club runs, training and social events

Islington Cycling Club (Islington)

Focus is road cycling but members also participate in cyclo-cross and track

Kingston Phoenix Road Club (Kingston)

Time trials, triathlons, road racing, cyclocross and social events with emphasis on enjoyment

Sigma Sport Ltd (Kingston)

Bike shop and online retailer offering social rides, workshops, mechanics courses

Wheels For Wellbeing (Lambeth)

Supports disabled people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling

The Fridays/Friday Night Ride to the Coast (Lambeth)

Sets off at midnight and rides at a conversational pace arriving at the coast for breakfast

Great Wheelers Cycling Club (Lambeth)

Greenwich Cyclists in Southwark (Southwark)
Regular monthly or weekly rides primarily for group members

Clarencourt Cycling Club (Sutton)

Sociable riding for all abilities and and all disciplines

Ride25 (Westminster)

Commercial organisation that organises worldwide cycling tours

University of Westminster (Westminster)

Westerley CC (West London)

Rides, races, training and trips for members out as far as the Chalfonts and Bucks

London Bike Hash (London)

Monthly off-road rides located under one hour from London by train or car

Demo Cycle Club (London)

CycleOut London (London)

Cycling club for gay men and lesbians and their friends

Somerville Youth (London)

Middlesex Road Club (London)

Time trials, sportives, road and track racing, annual Tour de France trip

De Laune Cycling Club (London)

One of UK’s oldest clubs covering all types of cycling from triathlons to social

What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below. 

Cycling routes in London

Cycle A-way’s list of London cycling maps, routes and resources

Journey Planner

Transport for London planner

London Bike Hire scheme

Cycling events in London 

Cycling UK’s members run over 13,000 organised rides throughout the year! What’s more, you can take part in up to three rides with a group before we will invite to join us. We have a rich mix of cycling options too – with beginners and family friendly rides, off-road, on road, women only, disability rides, challenge rides, and social events, you’ll be positively spoilt for choice.

Check out our events calendar to find a ride that suits you 

What to take with you on your ride 

The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need. 

But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag or rear rack and panniers are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.

Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)

If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock. 

It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.

Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help. 

Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.

Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies. 

Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!

Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software (Navmii, for instance) before your trip. 

Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan. 

Make sure your bike is working
(from our partners, Halfords)

Creaking cranks, wobbly wheels or slipping saddles are the last thing you want, but Halfords' guide to basic bike maintenance will keep you rolling smoothly. Whether you’re a regular commuter, a leisurely weekend rider, or prefer to tear it up on a serious MTB trail, signs of wear and tear might keep you off the saddle from time to time. Whilst we can’t promise to banish those roadside mishaps, we can help keep your bike tip top with our top tips!
You’re heading out on your lovely bike, with a pannier packed with your essentials. A glorious route lies ahead, but then you run into a spot of bother! Most of the time there are handy hacks you can do to tide you over whilst out and about, and we’ve taken a look into the most common bike problems and solutions…
Clicking saddle? Check that the bolts connecting the saddle to the seat post are not loose. Tighten until the saddle is firmly secured using an allen key from your trusty toolbox!
Squealing brakes? This could be down to dirt or oil on the brake pads. Give it a quick wipe down, then when you get home take the brake pads off and readjust.
Squeaky derailleur? A little lube should help. Remove any excess.
Creaky pedals? Dry pedal bearings, loose crank arms or a worn bottom bracket could be the culprit. Once home, remove and lube the pedal bearings, tighten and lube the crank arms, or replace the bottom bracket if it’s still making a fuss.

Problem areas

Some of the problems you find with your bike might need a closer look, and here’s where we can help!
Wobbling disc rotors, spongy brakes and rattling bolts needn’t be as pesky as they sound for long enough to keep you off your bike! Call and see us with your two wheels at your local Halfords, or with any other bike bothers you might have.
From as little as £15 a year, Halfords will take the labour out of looking after your bike. Halfords offer a range of care packages, they provide free fitting on all parts and accessories bought from Halfords, and even include an annual service worth £50 as part of the plan!