Bicycles are the fastest mode of transport, door to door, in central London. They give you the freedom to bypass London traffic, avoid busy public transport and give you a better view of the city.
Due to London noise, your average bike bell may not do it anymore. This is a needed piece of equipment on your bike so make sure that the bell, horn or industrial Claxton that you buy can be heard over the noise of London.
Don’t be left in the dark
A light on your bike is not for you to see the road. A light is for the rest of the traffic to see you. Get yourself a set of LED lights and set it on flashing to prevent from blending into the back ground. It is also illegal to cycle without lights after dark, so make sure your bike has lights.
Protect the “melon”
The general road, sidewalk or cycling tail in London is rock hard with good grip which is why cycling in London is so great. When you inevitably fall of your bike the most likely area that will get injured is your head. Therefore, make sure you protect your head while cycling. Wear a helmet, protect the melon, it helps.
Share the load
Laptops, iPads, books, jackets and rain coats are but some of the cargo that gets hauled around London on a daily basis by cyclists. Carrying all this on your back will take its strain and leave you drained when you reach your destination. Fit your bike with a pannier rack and bag and let your bike carry the weight.
Oil and water
What normally comes as a surprise to first time cyclist is that cycling is not free. Your bike will run much better and last years longer if it is clean and maintained. If you can do this yourself, great. If not then it is a good idea to take your bike to a good cycling shop once a year for a service. You will be able to get a good idea of what is wrong with your bike by attending the “Dr Bike” events which are held on a regular basis throughout the summer.
Secure and insure
Although there a bike racks on King’s property that are secure and do not allow access to unsavoury characters, your bike is still left at these racks at your own risk. Lock your bike with two locks, one for the front wheel and frame and the other for the back wheel and frame. Both should be secured to the bike rack. Insurance is always a good idea but if you feel that this is a step too far, then at least know your frame number and register it with an ACPO-approved marking scheme.
Location, location, location
Being car ‘doored’ is one of the most common causes of cycling crashes, and if struck you’re in danger from being run over by cars behind you. Always aim to ride at least a metre, if not more, away from parked cars so you can avoid doors opening in your path.
Take special care around junctions and roundabouts, when joining a main road from a side street or driveway, and when anywhere near a heavy goods vehicle (HGV). Though collisions are rare, most occur at junctions and being near a large lorry that’s turning can be very dangerous. Be aware that the slipstream of a large lorry can be a hazard for a cyclist if it passes too closely.
Positioning yourself well out from the kerb and taking the centre of the lane where necessary will leave you room for manoeuvre. Drivers of large vehicles need to make an extra effort to see cyclists, so be aware that they won’t always have seen you. Follow the advice below at all times:
Avoid cycling in the lorry risk zone
- If a lorry manoeuvres and puts you in the risk zone (above), you must move straightaway. Brake if necessary. In this area lorry drivers have most difficulty seeing cyclists, especially in busy traffic.
- Remember even wide gaps aren’t safe
Large lorries always move out to the right before they swing sharply across to turn left. Always stay out of the lorry risk zone near junctions.
- Take care at traffic lights
At traffic lights make sure you stay behind lorries or get a long way in front of the cab, in a location where the driver can clearly see you. Use the middle, not the left side, of the painted bike box or advanced stop line (ASL).
- Know that behind the lorry is safest
Behind a lorry is the safest place to be. Where possible overtake on the right side so the driver can see you.