Are you too scared to cycle in London?

edited May 2013 in General chat
I've recently had my friend visiting me and, according to my other friend, she's a brave soul, cycling with me though London. He's scared of cycling on the main roads. Often, when I tell someone that I cycle everywhere, I get the 'look of admiration', then 'I'd love to, but I'm too scared.'<br>I'm wondering how many of you have a bike and never cycle the 20 or 30 minutes to work, for they're afraid. <br><br>So, how many of you are?<br><br><br>


  • My boyfriend bought us both bikes at the weekend and we picked them up Tuesday evening. Obviously we had to cycle them home, which for me meant the first time on a bike in about 20 years as well as my first time on a bike in London ever. I was pretty nervous of all other road users. I definitely plan to cycle to work, but I need to get more road confident first.<br>
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  • <P>I cycle to work. Started a few weeks ago as I'm getting fed up of the tube and train esp as this time of year they become sweat boxes</P> <P> </P> <P>Hills scare me more than drivers :(</P>
  • Idoru: congratulations! You'll love cycling to work once you get confident. :-)<br><br>Misscara: I'm not talking about a leisure ride. That's something most who have a bike consider. I'm talking about fastest way to work, which includes main roads. I've spoken to many people who said they'd love to, but are scared. I normally cycle anywhere that's within an hour. If it's much longer, it's probably better to use public transport to work.<br><br>I wanted to do some 'market research', although I'm aware that I need to widen the area. :-)<br>Cycling gets you fit and healthy, helps losing weight, gives you more energy for the day ahead and since I love it so much, I was thinking of becoming a cycling coach. Help those who are too scared lose their fear of the traffic. My friend said she felt super safe with me; she's used to right-side traffic and it's quite a challenge to cycle through London's traffic for the first time. Guided or not.<br><br><br>
  • R&J. Yep, that's what I hate, too. If I can avoid public transport, I will. I used to cycle to Soho every other day (from Stokey), be it in the rain or snow, I would cycle. Hated the waiting for the night bus, sometimes over half an hour. By that time I was almost at home when cycling. Plus, London by night is extremely peaceful.<br>
  • <P>I'm being a bit selective of when I cycle in, usually weather dependent at the minute as I need ot invest in waterproofs! Also I'm pacing it as I'm quite out of shape and don't want to strain anything (i managed to do that last week cycling home into a head wind lol, my poor thighs) </P> <P> </P> <P>Weather is meant to be ideal tomorrow though :)</P>
  • <font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2" style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">I've been cycling to and from work (Waterloo) for 7 years now no matter what the weather is like. </font><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2" style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;">I'll cycle anywhere Barnet, Richmond, Lea Valley... I just love it! so much better then the tube or bus. </font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">My girlfriend really wants to start cycling (she doesn't drive either) but she is too scared and I can understand why after 7 years I've had incidents and seen some. </font></div></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">You do have to be quite confident to cycle in London. </font></div>
  • I'm planning on a round trip to Richmond Park on Saturday.Nice sections along the thames. I think it will be my longest cycle so far if I manage it
  • Does anyone ever go to Epping Forest? I'm trying to figure out the easiest/quietest route to take...
  • edited May 2013
    I've cycled all my life and if I don't sit on a bike for a few days, I'll get anxious and need to speed a bit. Don't know, it makes me happy. Of course, if I don't nee to cycle in the rain, I won't. It's not pleasant to get soaked. <br><br>Incidentally, I didn't have major incidents on the main roads, but one at the canal in Hackney. Luckily I was on my MTB back then, riding fast along the canal when an idiot came out of the park and went straight into my path without even looking. It was too late too brake and we just crashed into each other. I had a few scratches and bruises, he didn't have anything, I guess. <br><br>Had I been on my racer, I think it would have been a very different story. Pedestrians are the worst, if you ask me. They hardly look and just walk into the roads. Dangerous, for them and the cyclist, and even the cars behind the cyclist. <br>
  • edited May 2013
    DJ Matt: Can't you get her to cycle with you for a while? I think it really helps when people have someone, who's looking out for them, to cycle with them. <br><br>If not, maybe I could try to cycle with her? Off the main roads first and then slowly easing into the traffic. Would love to see if she would feel as safe with me as my friend did. Would be a shame if she'd missed out on all the fun just because she's too scared. <br><br><br>Oh, by the way, it would be a 'test drive'. <br>
  • Nope. But it's my default transport. I don't know what it would be like to take it up cold. <div><br></div><div>Nothing specific to be scared of between Stroud Green and the West End or the City as I wouldn't say there are any major hazards (compared to coming in from the west or south). My worst near misses have involved drunks running into the road and other cyclists/pedestrians not showing lights on a dark night. </div>
  • There's one roundabout (a massive one) near Victoria I have respect cycling through, but not fear, just healthy respect. <br>
  • edited May 2013
    Stella thinks pedestrians are the worst. I take the opposite view. The casual way in which most cyclists break all the rules is arrogant, appalling, and dangerous. I was nearly done for by one speeder, who thought he had the right to rush past my bus on the inside, while it was stationary at a bus stop, and I was getting off. He mumbled an apology, but I was outraged. Bikes on pavements, bikes wrongwaying down one way streets, bikes jumping the lights, bikes without lights after dark, etc etc. This grumpy old gentleman has come to regard cyclists as the most antisocial road users of the lot.
  • Yes, the minority that act like that ruin it for the rest of us who abide by the law 
  • <br><div><br></div><div>@ Checkski</div><div><br></div><div>Had a very similar experience on Holloway Road, I was waiting for the green man, the cyclist went through red and nearly hit me... and did not even apologise.</div><div> I also hate it when people cycle fast on the pavement.</div><div>I am fairly tolerant, but these things make me see red!</div>
  • I don't mind cycling in heavy traffic, but I'm put off by the whole logistics about having to wear a suit for work. How do those who cycle deal with that? Do you keep one in the workplace and change there? How often do you change suits/shirts? Where do you keep your sweaty commuting clothes during the day? We do have showers, but it all seems a bit fussy to me. I also prefer the local dry cleaners up here to  those in the city. I'd rather leave the house in my suit, sit on the 141, have half an hour for reading/snoozing and get chauffeured to the grindstone, although I do understand all the arguments pro cycling.
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  • I wouldn't know as I get lost all the time. Even with cycling plan. Doesn't mean I enjoy it less. I often go to Wood Green to meet up with a friend, the part behind the bridge is really busy and narrow. <br>
  • As a non-lycra wearing cyclist who commutes to work a few times a week, mixed with taking the tube and walking to places I agree that there are lots of horrible cyclist who regard the road as a race track.  They're even more annoying to cyclists.  I had one guy ringing his bell at me because I wan't going fast enough recently.  I'm not slow and cycle at an average speed.  I confronted the guy and found out he was so full of beans because he had just started his commute.   I'd cycled a few miles at the stage of manic bell ringing.  Message to cyclists: the road isn't an Olympic cycle track.<div><br></div><div>Pedestrians, especially in central London do the chicken run too much.  I've seen quite a few cyclists taken off their bikes by them.</div><div><br></div><div>And to the scared cyclists.  There are many great quiet routes.  Look at TFL.  Love the one that bypasses Angel and crosses Pentonville road.</div><div><br></div><div>Final comment.  Most cyclists are nice people and I would say based on personal experience 90 per cent at the very least stop at lights.  It's the wankers people remember.</div>
  • <P>The chap and I got a free bikes from Freecycle a couple of months ago and I now cycle everywhere, I love it.</P> <P>I hadn't cycled since my schooldays,(quite some time ago), and never on London roads. I started with a venture out to Haringey Market with the chap and cycled to work on my own the next day and every day since. I go down Hornsey Rd and either Holloway Rd. and Upper St. or Liverpool Rd. I've cycled down to Oxford Circus using main roads including Oxford Street and across to Stokey using Green Lanes. I find that I feel less hesitant using main roads actually,I like to cycle in the bus or bike lane.</P> <P>I stop at every crossing and red light and get into the cyclists area in front of cars on the big roads.</P> <P>Even if you are a brand new London cyclist like me I would recommend giving a main road a try, most are dead quiet if you go out earlyish in the morning and there are proper rules and places for cyclists on a main road. My main criteria is not whether a road is busy or not, but how flat it is.</P> <P>I was hesitant at first as I'm not a driver so had to find my place on the road, but I've not felt scared yet. Do give it a try, you'll be really surprised at how straightforward it is.</P>
  • <P>@djmattyoung<;/P> <P>It really will help your girlfriend if you take a couple of rides out with her so that she can find out where she needs to be in the road, that was the most confusing thing for me.</P> <P>Also, I wonder if it helps that I'm a native Londoner? Busy roads and traffic whizzing about doesn't really throw me</P>
  • @checkski don't fall into cyclist hating trap. Most are as considerate as any pedestrian or driver, but it's essential to recognise that each of those groups has different needs, cuts different corners and makes different mistakes.<div><br></div><div>I cycle to Kensington High St and back everyday for work and have done for more than seven years. I see a lot of bad behaviour from cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. Bad cyclists can be arrogant and aggressive but on the whole those on a bike are far more sinned against than sinners.</div><div><br></div><div>Just remember also that many of those cyclists racing down the pavements sending people scattering are not people on their way to work or cycling for leisure, they are generally yobs who will behave yobbishly whether on a bike, foot or if they could get their hands on a car.</div><div><br></div><div>There's a balance to be cut between quiet routes that weave around and stop start all the time and main roads that are busier but quicker. For example, I use Misscara's disliked Camden Road, the alternative involves a lot of stop-start and weaving side roads, but then I also use Regents Canal, which takes slightly longer, but between Camden and St Johns Wood is a nice long traffic free flowing stretch.</div><div><br></div><div>Cycling in London is scary at first, but you soon get used to it. Once you learn to anticipate buses and taxis, the bus lanes make life safer than in many suburban or rural areas. </div><div><br></div><div>My tips would be anticipate others' erratic movements, don't expect people to see you (how often do you really look properly around you?), make sure you get ahead of traffic at the lights even if it means waiting over the line, don't cycle straight through red lights at junctions and never go down the inside of a lorry etc.</div><div><br></div><div>And be polite, say thank you, let people through, spread a little pleasantness around and it will come back to you.</div>
  • edited May 2013
    I can see I shall have no trouble with the cyclists in this thread, should our paths ever cross, but I shall stick to my original proposition: that something has happened over the last 50 years which has turned a large majority of them into a bunch of self-centred anarchists. In my youth, when most people cycled, including me, it was a harmless practice, governed by strict rules. Transgressions listed above were unthinkable. I myself was fined 10 shillings for cycling without lights - yes, I admit it, I was and am less than perfect! I also cycled all round central London collecting orders from publishers for a bookshop, for a few months in 1962. It was moderately dangerous, but most people obeyed the rules, not because they were virtuous, but because there would have been uproar if we hadn't. Does anyone else remember those days? I am not concerned, as a pedestrian, with buses, lorries, vans, nor even cars, although I can see that they too are often badly behaved. Cyclists are my bête noire, and I refute Papa L's assertion that pavement cyclists are all yobs. All sorts of lovely 2-wheelers now regard the pavement as theirs. If I could be bothered, I should spend an hour or two at, say, the Nando's corner, with a clipboard, and then I could throw a few stats into the discussion. Perhaps somebody else would care to have a go? I bet the results would be horrifying, probably for all categories, but it's cyclists who cause most upset, IMHO.
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  • agree with @checkski ;<div><br></div><div>have been commuting to all areas of London for 15 years</div><div>In my experience its all about finding the right route for you</div><div>if you find yourself on a busy road or having to cross a nasty junction or go round a big roundabout its daunting - but this can always be avoided with a bit of forward planning</div><div><br></div><div>if you don't like buses, taxis and vans then adjust your route to avoid them</div><div> is a great site for route finding</div><div>and all the routes have been added by cyclists - </div><div>which means it won't suddenly ask you to cross lanes on busy roads</div><div><br></div><div>you can set it to give you either a fast, balanced or quiet route</div><div>I recommend the turn by turn format rather than the map</div><div>- and there is an App too</div><div><br></div><div>If you know where you're going you can concentrate on cycling and watching out for dangers</div><div>you'll soon pick up a sense as to what the traffic is going to do  - well before they signal their intent</div><div>don't ride in the gutter - assert your presence and be seen</div><div>don't ride next to cars and buses - always in front or behind</div><div>and remember the average traffic speed in London is so much slower than everywhere else</div><div>which makes it much safer really</div><div><br></div><div><br></div><div><br></div>
  • Misscara: that's terrible. I can't imagine how awful it must have been to witness that. <br>
  • edited May 2013
    One of my dancers was killed by a lorry a few years ago while cycling home, so I'd never dare cycle in London. <br><br>Edit: she was a very conscientious cyclist and always wore hi-vis, but that didn't help in the end. <br>
  • Here a little story that just happened:<br><br>Me in front of the cars as I wanted to go straight ahead. A lady, who'd clearly jumped the lights stood in the middle of the road with her car (she wanted to turn right), blocking everyone. As soon as she was gone, I went across and saw that it's quite narrow. Yet, a bloody big BMW had to overtake me, just to hit the brakes immediately. I could only jump off the bike to actually keep me from crashing into the car. The idiot behind me felt it necessary to hoot his horn at me. <br>Excuse me, I was there first, you have to wait! <br><br>Another thing I hate is drivers on their mobiles. It's very dangerous, because they often don't look where they're going. I had a few instances where I cycled next to them and still they turn to the left. <br><br>I still love cycling and wouldn't want to miss it. You just need to think for everyone else, too. <br>
  • Harpistic: while it's very sad that it happens, I think you can be killed in an accident everywhere. I've seen one dreamy woman on her bike who turned around a sharp corner inside of a car. She got away, but only just. I couldn't believe my eyes. Same goes with people who cycle inside buses or lorries just before a corner. Maybe it helps that I used to drive (in Germany) so I know what it's like to be in other people's shoes.<br><br>I think when using the road we should all respect each other. I will admit to bend a few rules here and there (when I'm on my own), but I will only do that when I'm 100% sure that I'll not hinder or endanger others. I also always thank drivers or pedestrians when they make way for me, or I make way for drivers. It's a matter of knowing yourself and communicate with others. <br>
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