How to cycle in London

3 December 2020

How to cycle in London? Well there’s no right answer to that, but once you’ve gotten used to the constantly busy nature of the city's roads, you'll soon find yourself getting into the swing of things.

Bike on a railing

Green routes for beginner cyclists

When it comes to cycling around UCL, there are numerous routes you can take. Heading South towards the centre of the city may sound tempting but for a beginner cyclist, I would recommend a slower, more scenic route following the course of the canal.

To the east of Garden Halls, you’ll find Judd street. After a quick pre-cycle coffee at Half-Cup, cross Euston road to adjoin Midland Road which will lead you straight up past Kings Cross on a cycle pathway. Turn right under the bridge and you’ll meet Coal Drops Yard and Central St Martins. From here you can join the canal heading Eastwards or Westwards. For a longer, greener route, head West following the canal all the way towards Regent’s Park, you’ll pass, London Zoo, London Central Mosque and even Lord’s Cricket Ground! Do a loop around the park and return the same way!

Top Tips

Cycle with a friend!

That way you’ll get to know the rules of the road. CONFIDENCE is key for cycling in London. Don’t be afraid of holding up the car behind you, it is legal in the UK for two bikes to cycle side by side. Go at your own pace and ensure you are seen, at the front of the traffic and indicate where you’re going. Always make sure to cycle a car door’s width away from any parked car to avoid any opening doors.

Where to get a bike

The most economical option is to get a second-hand bike (you can find them in the 70-200 pound range). Your smaller independent bike shops are best; you’ll get to know your local maintenance guys and they may even give a few discounts down the line! (For free maintenance, check out Dr Bike!). 


Don’t be vain – wear a helmet. Next most important are your lights! Be seen: this doesn’t mean having to look like your dad in high-vis; you can do this how you want; wear your neon gym leggings or yellow puffa!

Cycle routes and TFL

TFL is great for general tips and free lessons but prepare to be disappointed by cycle ‘highways’. Some routes are shown here but they tend to disappear when you need them most. Instead use google maps or cycle streets to find a quieter commute.

How to protect your bike

Unfortunately bike theft is common in London, so ensure you get a proper D lock, don’t leave your bike out overnight, lock your wheels, or if you’re really worried rent a cycle hangar. The general rule is to spend 10% of your bike’s price on a lock.

The benefits of cycling are numerous

Its FREE, Its FAST, and it keeps you FIT. You’ll get to uni 15 mins faster, you’ll save money on tube fares, and you’ll get a workout, all before your first 9am lecture! UCL also has bike parking, what are you waiting for?

Last revised: 7 September 2021.

Helen Visscher, UCL Sustainability blog contributor