I’ve been on a few adventures over the last two weeks traveling in Europe. This is my first post in a four part series of my cycling experiences through London, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin. My goal was to ride a bicycle in every city for at least a day to get a feel for the cycling culture. Along the way I met with local cyclists and bloggers to find out what make cycling in their city so unique. First up, London!
London is a city that reminds me a lot of New York. Our population and climates are similar but London rather than being built up feels more spread out. You would think this would lead to less congested cycling through the city, but the roads in London are quite narrow. Londoners warned me and said I wouldn’t enjoy the crazy drivers and traffic of the city but I laughed thinking NYC has to be much worse.
I rented a bike from On Your Bike mostly because of price (12 pounds/day can’t be beat). They had a cool, secure bicycle parking facility for commuters. I was on a hybrid bike of which I saw many on the roads. London roads are mostly filled with road bikes, fixies and mountain bikes. There were very few dutch and cargo bikes.
London is in the midst of building out new cycling lanes just like New York. I found that even though the roads were narrow, drivers gave me more respect on the road. Taxis, well they were pretty much the same! I rode on poorly designed infrastructure similar to lanes on 6th Ave in Manhattan Midtown but I also road on segregated lanes next to sidewalks.
Riding across the Tower bridge is not for the faint of heart but highly recommended if you are comfortable with cycling in the city! The prevalence of high visibility vests and spandex on the roads was much higher in my opinion…less cycle chic! London is ahead of us though with their recently implemented Barclay’s bike share system (not open to visitors yet).
One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Andreas from London Cyclist. We meet up at a very cool, cycling store/coffee shop called Look Mum No Hands thanks to the London rain. Even though we didn’t have a chance to ride together, we got to discussing the exciting art of bike blogging! Check him out. He’s also got some cool iPhone apps.
London is dense and similar to cycling in NYC. Be prepared for the pollution, narrow roads and drivers that come along with it but get out there and ride. London is in the middle of a cycling infrastructure boom! Get your hands on a Barclays bike if you can.
Similar to NYC, if you take some time to research, you can find less crowed routes outside of the central area.
For my photos from the trip, check out Brooklyn by Bike on Flickr.