Viewing 37 posts - 1 through 37 (of 37 total)
  • Commuting in London and safety
  • Premier Icon greyspoke
    Free Member

    Family dilemma here folks, I would appreciate some advice.

    It is 35+ years since I commuted in London, I now ride about Cardiff.  My daughter has recently started work in London and has said she wants to cycle to work.  She lives in Limehouse and works in Euston, and is used to pedalling about Oxford (where bikes rule as far as I can see).  Mrs greyspoke is against it on account of the publicity given to commuter fatalities in London.  My son is against it as he has worked in London for a few years and says every cycle commuter he knows has been involved in collisions with vehicles (though not fatal).

    Puts me in a difficult position as if I say she shouldn’t I will be accused of double standards.

    I would appreciate views generally and (if she ends up cycling to work) on routes, guidance on safe cycling specific to city traffic she can consult etc.  (The latter would probably have more weight coming from somewhere other than me.)

    Ta very much.

    Premier Icon Ben_H
    Full Member

    I work in London about 1 day per week on average and ride a Brompton (taken by train).

    In central London especially, there are some great bike lanes.  I think a lot depends on route choice.

    Most local authorities offer free cycle training and I suggest looking this up.  Personally, I’d be happier in London – subject to caveats above – than almost any other UK city.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    IME London is safer than most cities and it’s getting better all the time. The new segregated CSH are fantastic, Santander Cycles mean there’s an awful lot more people now “bimbling” rather than flat out smashing it.

    CS2 goes from Startford / Mile End down to Aldgate and actually it’s a nice route through the city to Euston – up to CS2, follow that all the way into St Paul’s to Holborn, turn right and thread up through Russell Square. It’s really not that unpleasant. Or you can go up through Spitalfields and along Old Street whcih is one of the main cycle commuting routes, it’s like a little Tour de France going along there at rush hour. Safety in numbers and you also get to stop at Look Mum No Hands for coffee!

    Premier Icon brakes
    Free Member

    If she has road sense, is cautious but assertive and can maintain concentration at all times then she’ll be fine. If she isn’t these things then she’ll probably be fine too.

    She could take CS3 a lot of the way and then up to Euston through the west end where you’re always going faster than the traffic.

    I’ve commuted in London for 13 years between city / west end and North London and have had one minor crash with a vehicle due to rain, visibility and bad brakes.

    People die on London’s roads every day. Mostly pedestrians, but only the cyclists get reported.

    Premier Icon joemmo
    Free Member

    I can empathise but I don’t think there’s a definitive answer that will make you feel better or worry less and ultimately she’s an adult who can make her own choices. As an ex-London cycle commuter my impression on recent visits is that there are loads more bikes and more infrastructure than when I did it 15 years ago so in theory it ought to be safer.

    As with anywhere in the UK though, good route choice is the main tool you have to reduce risk IME so if she really wants to do it then offer to help or find resources that can plot the safest (which probably won’t be the quickest) route.

    Premier Icon kilo
    Full Member

    Crazy legs opening paragraph is spot on. As others mentioned route planning and being sensible on the road will stand her in good stead. It may be worth drilling in the dangers of lorries turning left at junctions, I believe a highly disproportionate number of females are killed in these incidents.

    i cycle in to London most days at present and it’s actually quite nice, especially when compared to the tube.

    Premier Icon cynic-al
    Full Member

    I cycle there on a family trip once a year, I find it fine and possibly easier than Edinburgh.

    Premier Icon qwerty
    Free Member

    Three things: life saver, life saver, life saver. Look, all the time, & prior to every change in road position.

    Fact No. 1 = most cyclist fatalities in London involve a left turning vehicle. Be VERY aware of this and the situations it can occur in.

    Recce the commuting route and learn the road positioning required to stay safe and ID where the risks lay & learn the traffic flow. Do this on a quiet day & definitely during commute times.

    The good thing about central London bicycle commuting is that traffic speed is so much slower, so a bicycle can interact as part of the traffic.

    Get mudguards.

    Premier Icon wait4me
    Free Member

    It’s 25 years since I did it, but I used to commute to Euston from the east and the last bit was along the canal coming out in Islington. I’d study the map and see if you could swing up the Limehouse Cut and pick up the Regents canal. As said long time ago for me so may not be possibility today.

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Full Member

    There are hundreds of thousands of cycle journeys each day in London with only the tiniest fraction resulting in any sort of collision. I still (touch wood) have yet to have one.

    Between the cycle superhighways and quietways and a bit of route planning to avoid a few bad roads/junctions you don’t actually have to mix with traffic all that much. Beyond that a bit of common sense, particularly when near large vehicles with limited visibility, goes a long way. I also find most drivers are resigned to the fact it’ll take ages to get anywhere, I’d much rather ride around them than the impatient cretins you get in other towns and cities.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    Greyspoke-Jr is presumably an adult if she is about to start a job in London.  Basically it’s none of your business – it’s pretty ridiculous to think that an adult who has managed to get a job in the UKs capital city would choose their commuting method to keep their parents happy any more than their parents might change theirs to satisfy their adult children.

    there are many other threats which are perceived to be higher in London (but may not be in reality).  Acid attacks, stabbings, moped muggers, terrorism, and drugs.  Is your wife going to issue dictats on how these are to be avoided too?

    if you want to be helpful make sure she is well briefed, maybe even has some specific coaching if you think her riding needs to be more defensive (I don’t know if someone does this in London – I know it’s possible in Ed so expect there will be advice down souf too), help her select a route, buy her good safety kit etc.  This way you can even appear to be the broker of peace.

    Premier Icon JonEdwards
    Free Member

    Did it 5 or 6 days a week for 14 years all over town (knocked up a LOT of miles), still do it 2 days a week.

    Its better now than its ever been, although personally as a “fast” commuter/dickhead (delete as appropriate) I find a lot of the new infrastructure and the bimblers/dawdlers its attracted quite irritating as the new narrow segregated lanes make overtaking difficult. But I’ll accept that’s just me, and I’m happy enough to go and play in traffic if the segregated stuff is too busy.

    I would say – there’s a lot of numptys around on bikes now with zero awareness, zero traffic sense and an almost negative knowledge of the highway code, if such thing is possible.

    Does your daughter drive? I think there’s a definite advantage to being able to see the world from the opposition’s perspective, and it also means that she will have had to learn the Highway Code at some point. Either way – basic rules apply  – follow the rules of the road; don’t RLJ; don’t dick around with HGVs and PSVs – you’ll lose, badly; OWN your bit of the road; know what’s going on around you; don’t be a dick (natch!).

    To be honest, although I’ve never ridden it Oxford, I did “learn the trade” in the not dissimilar Cambridge and worked in Oxford a fair bit on and off – I remember Cowley Road being pretty chaotic. If she’s happy with that, she’ll be fine in London.

    Premier Icon sandwicheater
    Full Member

    My daughter has recently started work in London and has said she wants to cycle to work

    If she want’s to, she will.

    Give her some pointers/advice, perhaps help her choose some descent kit/lights.

    As mentioned above, it’s really not all that bad.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    Cycling in London is probably safer than most other UK cities,

    a) there’s so many cyclists now, it’s not Oxford but it’s reached a critical mass IME.

    b) there’s actual usable cycle routes, the CSH’s, the parks and traffic calmed back streets.

    There are still exceptions like Hyde Park Corner which are a nightmare on a bike or in a car, I even once tried it in a van, it’s even worse when you’ve got blind spots!

    Premier Icon swdan
    Free Member

    I’ve not read all the above advice but mine, as someone who commutes in London by bike would be this.

    Be sensible

    Be alert

    Don’t jump lights

    Don’t cut up the inside if there’s  risk something will turn left

    Ride defensively and allow yourself lots of space

    In short, don’t be a dick and look after yourself

    You could probably ignore all of that and be fine but my view is that I should give myself the best chance of being ok. That to me is more important than getting to work 5 minutes quicker

    You hear a lot about cycling accidents in London and obviously there are risks but you also need to put that in context with how many cyclists there are now. Clue, it’s loads.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Full Member

    Its better now than its ever been, although personally as a “fast” commuter/dickhead (delete as appropriate) I find a lot of the new infrastructure and the bimblers/dawdlers its attracted quite irritating as the new narrow segregated lanes make overtaking difficult. But I’ll accept that’s just me, and I’m happy enough to go and play in traffic if the segregated stuff is too busy.

    With the caveat that I’m only an occasional London commuter, I’m going to both agree with this and offer the counter view 🙂

    First up, cycling in central London is way better than it’s ever been. You no longer have to be a lone warrior ragging it at 20mph+ in the traffic to get by.

    So, when I’m urban commuting I’m not fast. I might even qualify as a bimbler/dawdler. I don’t faff about, but I’m rarely on the rivet off the lights, whereas some people seem to go Full Cavendish at the slightest opportunity. So my counter view is this: the new infrastructure has attracted people like me, but quite a few of the “fast commuters/dickheads (delete as appropriate)” still ride just the same way in that infrastructure.

    My recent experience, on the routes I ride at least, is that I’m more at risk of being hit by some numbnuts on a bicycle (or, to be fair, a scooter/moped/whatever) than I am someone in a car or a lorry. People are people, and a fair few people don’t want to slow up for people walking across the road and give them space, or—and I got a glancing blow this way recently—if you sit anywhere near primary at the lights they’ll try to barge up your inside as you move off, or they’ll have no qualms about continuing at full speed up a gap to the left of an HGV so if you hesitate and check it out before taking that route yourself they’ll be steaming up behind you.

    But that all brings us full circle to why you probably shouldn’t worry too much about your daughter riding in London: Being hit by a tool on a bike is normally going to be much less harmful than being hit by a tool in a motor vehicle.

    Almost all of the non-two-wheeler traffic in central London these days is HGVs, vans, taxis and buses (lots and lots and lots of buses). If you can learn how to deal with the particular traits of each of these, and the visibility issues they present (not just in terms of their own drivers but also blocking your view of turning vehicles in front of them), it’s generally just fine.

    I’d certainly say I’d prefer to ride in central London than in a typical large UK city without the same infrastructure and level of cycling… such as Cardiff.

    Premier Icon greyspoke
    Free Member

    Thanks for the advice, at least I now have some evidence.  I suspect to keep mrs g happy I may have to pay a visit and do some riding myself.  And daughter needs a new bike, but that is a separate issue…

    BTW I do understand the “she’s an adult” thing.  But that doesn’t really help given the nature of the dilemma.  Other members of the family have already weighed in on the issue (not in the sense of telling, but offering advice).  So I am obliged to do so also.  Offering no opinion on the matter and just saying “do what you want” is not an option.

    Premier Icon poolman
    Free Member

    I commute in central London when I am there, on a brompton so deffo no racing.  I just bimble about on the scenic routes.  If i were new to it i would use the canal as much as possible, no idea if it’s safe down there in the dark though.

    Ditto lorries turning left, also having done it for years my worst experience was stationary traffic on the strand, 2 buses alongside each other going nowhere.  I rode down the middle…buses started to move. I was ok but v lucky.

    Stay safe

    Premier Icon winston
    Free Member

    “I commute in central London when I am there, on a brompton so deffo no racing.”

    Clearly you have never really cycled in London then!

    Seriously though, when I commuted by bike in central London, as Bez said it was mainly other cyclists that were the problem and the only proper hit the deck collision I had was with a pedestrian who stepped off the pavement in front of me. Lorries and buses are a hazard but just drill it into her that she must never ever go up the left of one, no matter how tempting it looks and to always be aware that a high driving position means she might not be in their sight line.

    Also make sure she doesn’t ride with headphones in.

    Premier Icon ajaj
    Free Member

    The London cycle highways scare the willies out of me. They aren’t wide enough to overtake safely (if someone overtook you on a normal road leaving that sized gap you’d complain) yet you get huge range of speeds in them from a tour group wobbling on hire bikes to a Rapha clad warrior. When a pedestrian steps into them, unless you’ve got awesome bunny hop skills, you’ve absolutely no where to go except head first into the kerb. They do seem popular though.

    Premier Icon edhornby
    Full Member

    offer to plan the route with her, then go up one weekend, take your bike and you can both trial the route. have lunch somewhere and ride back 🙂

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    As above, cycling in London is safer than most UK cities and even most towns.

    But her level 3 cycle training if you are worried.

    Buy a good lock.

    Premier Icon benp1
    Full Member

    Cycle commuting in London is great, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s way better than getting on the train or bus!

    I commute every day and love it. I’ve not had an accident (yet…) apart from the one I had on the safest bit of my ride – head on collision with a cyclist going too fast on a blind corner on an off road path! That aside, if she’s sensible then she’ll be fine

    There are lots of way to get knocked off, but as long as she sensible and vigilant she should be OK – pedestrians running across the road, particularly in stationary traffic, random u turns, left hand turns with no indicators, side swipes from left hand vehicles at lights, long vehicles taking a wide line round a corner etc etc. Over 3 years of (almost) daily commuting and I’m still here and still enjoying it

    Premier Icon TheBrick
    Free Member

    Also add that as a general rule (even though I hate general rules when it comes to this type of thing assess each situation on its merits), don’t undertake, especially lorrys and buses. If you are having to scoot up the inside of any vehicle because of catching your pedal on the curb, you definitely should not be there.

    Second tip would be look out for Peds crossing slow moving traffic and not looking or only looking one way.

    Premier Icon atrthanks
    Free Member

    Her start and end points make her journey partially safe.

    CS3, EW cycle superhighway, NS cycle superhighway gets her to king’s cross on fully segregated cycle lanes via a pretty direct route. Then a short cut through on back roads to Euston.

    There may be more efficient safe routes South of Euston Rd depending on exactly where she works. For example you can carry on from the NS cycle superhighway onto Tavistock Place (mostly segregated with safe crossings) to get pretty close before turning onto shared roads.

    Premier Icon swdan
    Free Member

    Just want to add that I agree with the main risk being other cyclists and pedestrians. I work on Blackfriars road and we have a new segregated cycle route outside the office. I use it as little as possible.

    Some people seem to treat it like a closed road race overtaking each other when there really isn’t the room and racing from light to light. On the occasions when I get the train and have to cross this by foot it can actually be quite scary as there can be little consideration of other road users.

    Regarding pedestrians, they can be quite bad at judging bike speed, even if you’re only going a quite a low casual pace. My view is to be aware and let them cross, close passing them does not help the situation but you’d be amazed how many people think that’s justified. I wonder how the same people feel when a taxi does it to them.

    Premier Icon charliem
    Free Member

    Commuting for 12 years in oxford and London, been knocked off twice…both times in Oxford. Never had an issue in London but echo what others say – beware left turning vehicles, don’t jump lights, have a decent set of lights in winter (I like the lezyne helmet mounted thing). In terms of route from limehouse you could actually cycle to kings cross on regents canal the whole way then Euston is just 5 mins up the road…I’m not a fan of the canal personally just because it can be a bit dark and/or crowded. I’d probably do something involving Vicky Park/dalston/Essex Road/Bloomsbury then cross to Euston somewhere near uclh. Mostly quiet except a short bit of Essex road, some bits on segregated paths.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    I’ve cycled all over, and I. London I feel very safe, as long as I avoid the bonkers stuff which is very easy.

    The reason fatalities make the news is because there are thousands of times more cyclists in London than other cities. And this is why it’s safe. The drivers have to watch out for cyclists simplified to the numbers. In the places you’d want to cycle, the cyclists are on top.

    Definitelybthe best way to go. **** the tube at rush hour, seriously.

    Premier Icon philjunior
    Free Member

    Everyone I know that drives has been involved in some sort of collision. Same with MTBing.

    Cycling is one of the best ways to get about London. There are dangers, but they are outweighed by health benefits. Racing bikes* as per a recent thread here is several hundred times more dangerous per mile.

    You get less sweaty cycling than taking the tube in summer, and it’s more reliable.

    *based on the Tour de France.

    Premier Icon philjunior
    Free Member

    https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowledge/skills/commuting-leisure

    for guides on most aspects of it.

    Premier Icon aP
    Free Member

    I cycled into town today from Richmond first to KingsX, then a quick trip to Borough Market, then back to KingsX then to Chiswick. On a Brompton. In normal clothes. Without a helmet.

    I didn’t die. I didn’t get run over. I did keep out of the way of a couple of very keen van drivers.

    As long as your daughter makes sure that she knows where she’s going – both route and road positioning, makes sure that she’s aware of what’s around her, and then actually goes where she’s intending to go with purpose and predictability then she’s most likely going to be OK.

    Premier Icon joemmo
    Free Member

    slightly off topic but interesting to read the complaints about people racing in the bike lanes. I guess it’s a transitional thing as – hopefully – the mode shifts from go-as-fast-as-you-can-to-survive to transport paced cycling like wot more civilised nations has.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Also, I cycle in Cardiff.  There, the roads belong to the cars, and you’re an annoyance or even a surprise.  In much of London, the roads belong to pedestrians and cyclists, especially during the day.  Not all of it, of course, but you just need to know which routes to avoid.

    The cycleways, well they might be a bit alarming at first, but it’s really not that bad.  Just take it easy and don’t try and rack up PBs.  Unless it’s the Chelsea embankment in which case, take NO prisoners.

    Premier Icon brakes
    Free Member

    One final point… don’t start now. worst time of year when the lights are about to change – people go a bit funny in the head and try and run you over. Must be moon gravity changes or something. 90% serious though, it’s a bit of a loony period until mid-November.

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    slightly off topic but interesting to read the complaints about people racing in the bike lanes. I guess it’s a transitional thing as – hopefully – the mode shifts from go-as-fast-as-you-can-to-survive to transport paced cycling like wot more civilised nations has.

    Nah, it’s all the wanna-be racers training for their CAT4s or whatever. It quietens down considerably out of season…

    Premier Icon atrthanks
    Free Member

    I think the people complaining about CSH safety are over stating the case. They are perfectly safe if you are riding slowly.

    At 10mph, a ped stepping out is no issue. Just apply the brakes. It doesn’t happen that often – even by Parliament Square.

    They can be a bit dangerous if you are a mid-level speed rider going because you are both trying to overtake and be overtaken at the same time.

    Slow riders don’t have that problem – if you are willing to take your time and wait behind slower riders then they seem fine. I ride on them every day with a toddler in his child seat and we’ve yet to have a problem.

    Premier Icon greyspoke
    Free Member

    Thanks for the responses, looks like it’s time to sort out a route and go for a ride.

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