Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge... There's no shortage of things to do and see in London!

Bike Rental London?

khandilee

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  • Added on: June 28th, 2010
I am going to be in London for 6 days with 2 16y/o. We are staying in a hostel, central location. Is it reasonable to rent bikes to get around? Does anyone have any recommendations on cheap rentals?

Also, any quirky/odd/unknown sites would be great...especially if they are free/cheap!

Thanks!

halfnine

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  • Added on: June 28th, 2010
Riding a bike around London isn't for the meek. Even more so if you aren't familiar with British road rules. Plus, there really aren't cycle paths and the less busy roads that are considered the cycle routes will quickly get you lost unless you have an intimate familiarity with London.

As far as bike rentals, there is a cycle scheme that is supposed to be starting up that will allow you to pick up and drop off bikes in various locales across the city. At least they keep talking about it, not sure about the latest status though.

travellover

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  • Added on: June 29th, 2010
Is it your first tour?

If it is your first tour so I think hire a bike on rent, is expensive way to travel around. I suggest you that travel around through trains because for bike travel, you must have driving license and knowledge about route therefore you require a guide.

Best Regards,

2wanderers

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  • Added on: July 5th, 2010
I think the above comments are somewhat pessimistic. I've never biked in London, but if you're confident with urban cycling, I doubt it would be much of a problem. London is compact, and while roads tend not to be in any way linear, good maps are widely available and not that hard to navigate. I've also found that within the congestion zone, there isn't much traffic off the main streets. TfL puts out cycling maps - which I think they gave me for free, but that was several years ago - but I found that a small booklet is easier to use...less folding.

I did a fair bit of walking last time I was there and never had problems getting lost. While a combination of walking and tube worked for me, walking can be slow, and tends to keep you only seeing the areas close to attractions where you would get off a train.

A quick review of TfL's cycling site seems to indicate the rules in Britain are little different other parts of the western world. Ride on the road, follow the same rules as drivers, etc.

A quick google found bike rentals from £50/week or Bromptons from £70/week. For three people, probably a bit more expensive than public transit, but not by a lot. The Bromptons could be folded and carried on the underground for longer trips...some routes allow full sized bikes, but only with restrictions.

I hope that helps. Enjoy your trip.

halfnine

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  • Added on: July 6th, 2010
2wanderers wrote: I've never biked in London


I think that is why we differ in opinion. I bike quite a bit here, but it is not something I recommend to the casual tourist. If you want to rent a bike and explore the canal paths or take rides around the parks or along the Thames then that is fine. But from getting to A to B in the city centre, I wouldn't recommend it.

2wanderers wrote:but if you're confident with urban cycling, I doubt it would be much of a problem.


Of the urban places I've lived: San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Sydney, Tokyo, London ..... London would be my least favorite to ride.

2wanderers wrote:I did a fair bit of walking last time I was there and never had problems getting lost.


I would agree it's hard to get lost walking. But riding off the main roads is a different story. You'll end up stopping and taking out the map on a frequent basis and the cycle paths aren't all that well marked.

2wanderers wrote:A quick review of TfL's cycling site seems to indicate the rules in Britain are little different other parts of the western world. Ride on the road, follow the same rules as drivers, etc.


The issue isn't the cycle rules its more of being on the other side of the road, experiencing roundabouts, etc, if you are not used to these things. One will also need to get used to having a double decker bus only a few feet behind you as you'll share the bus lane with them.

2wanderers wrote:The Bromptons could be folded and carried on the underground for longer trips

Bromptons are great bikes. We have one as well as a folding Dahon. That said they are better suited for rail journeys and buses than tube rides within the city. They still weigh 10+ kg and you'll be carrying them quite a bit on the city centre tube lines as there are quite a few stairs and often a good walk between transfers. You will want to always keep it with you or lock it up real good as they have a tendency of walking way.

halfnine

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  • Added on: August 6th, 2010
Just wanted to update this a bit as the Cycle Hire Scheme is finally in place. As far as I've seen (and can tell from the map) the docking stations for bikes are entirely limited to Zone 1 and are generally placed on the side roads.

The info is here

And, Tony Wheeler blogged about the experience here

heymikey

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  • Added on: August 10th, 2010
Here is a video showing a glimpse of the Cycle Hire scheme in London:

London Cycle Hire Scheme

I hope in the future, you can use these using your Oyster card.

Shannon123

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  • Added on: October 26th, 2010
I'm so glad London has finally taken note of the fabulous idea that is free bikes! I am a keen cyclist and pride myself on being eco-friendly, so this is one great move from Boris in my eyes. Or course it's easy to buy bikes on the internet, but why bother with this new system? I lived in Paris for five months; their free bike system (the velib) was launched in Summer of 2007 I do believe, and has been widely successful. I really hope the same will be said of London in a couple of years. What I will say though is that some points made above are worth taking note of..I wouldn't exactly consider using a bike to get from A to B in London a great idea. Hopefully this new system will encourage politicians to wake up and see the need for more cycle paths.

WomanSeeksWorld

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  • Added on: April 5th, 2011
Definitely hire a 'Boris Bike'! (Thats Londons Mayor who introduced the scheme) - you can hire them on the day with a credit card and your first 30 mins is free...so you can ride and dock as many times as you like throughour the day - Ive been known to only pay a few pounds for a whole day cruising the city when docking and picking up another bike at the next station...you can download a free app for ipone and android to tell you where the stations are too, its called Spotcycle!

Have fun! :D
Im an Aussie living in London and have written a guide to help others doing the same.
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Skyehiker

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  • Added on: June 27th, 2011
This past weekend, when the weather in London was absolutely fantastic (for London :) ), you couldn't go anywhere around central London without seeing those Boris Bikes everywhere. They're really catching on with tourists as much as locals. If you're coming here for a long period of time, you can pay a £45/year "access fee" which saves you the daily credit card rental. Your first 30 minutes from a docking station is free, and you can do what many do by just going from one station to another. You can cover a LOT of ground in central London in that 30 minutes, for sure.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. ---St. Augustine

naturelle

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  • Added on: July 14th, 2011
If your an experienced rider then maybe you'l be okay riding around london, but it isn't for the faint hearted, I consider my self a good rider but I for one would not ride a bike around London especially in rush hour, no way.
Last edited by naturelle on July 19th, 2011, edited 1 time in total.

Skyehiker

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  • Added on: July 15th, 2011
Rush hour is indeed a bit crazy, and not for the faint of heart....but outside of that, do-able.

Depending on how "central" the OP's central London hostel really is, well, much of the touristy stuff in central London is quite walkable.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. ---St. Augustine




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