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Tens of thousands of Londoners cycle to work every day, and it is generally a good way to get around the city, although traffic can be intimidating for less-confident cyclists and it's important to keep your wits about you. The city has tried hard to improve the cycling infrastructure, by opening new ‘cycle superhighways’ for commuters, while the public bike hire scheme Santander Cycles is particularly useful for visitors.

Transport for London (www.tfl.gov.uk) publishes 14 free maps of London's cycle routes.

Bicycles on Public Transport

Bicycles can be taken on the Overground, DLR and on the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City, and Metropolitan tube lines, except at peak times (7.30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday). Folding bikes can be taken on any line at any time, however.


Three-wheeled cycle rickshaws seating two or three passengers have been a regular part of the West End scene for over a decade. They’re less a mode of transport than a gimmick for tourists and the occasional drunk on a Saturday night. Expect to pay from £5 for a short trip; it's worth confirming the rate before you get in as there have been some high-profile incidents of overcharging. Tours of London are also available, from £80 per person for a pub tour. For more information visit www.londonpedicabs.com.

Santander Cycle Hire Scheme

London's cycle-hire scheme is called Santander Cycles. The bikes have proved as popular with visitors as with Londoners.

The idea is simple: pick up a bike from one of the 750 docking stations dotted around the capital. Cycle. Drop it off at another docking station.

The access fee is £2 for 24 hours. All you need is a credit or debit card. The first 30 minutes are free; it's then £2 for any additional period of 30 minutes.

You can take as many bikes as you like during your access period (24 hours), leaving five minutes between each trip.

The pricing structure is designed to encourage short journeys rather than longer rentals; for those, go to a hire company. You’ll also find that although easy to ride, the bikes only have three gears and are quite heavy. You must be aged 18 to buy access and at least 14 to ride a bike.

Hiring a Bike

  • Insert your debit or credit card in the docking station to pay your access fee (only once for the access period).
  • Request a cycle release code slip at the docking station every time you want to take a bike during your access period.
  • Enter the release code at your chosen bike dock; wait for the green light to release the bike.
  • If you find it difficult to pull the bike free from its dock, bounce the back wheel up and down first.
  • Ride!
  • Return the bike at any free dock; wait for the green light to make sure the bike is locked.
  • If the docking station is full, consult the terminal to find available docking points nearby. Smartphone users can download the free Santander Cycles app, which locates nearby docking stations and shows you how full they are and also allows users to have the release code sent direct to their phone.