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BIKE RENTAL IN LONDON

Your visit to London is a chance to discover one of the world’s global cities. With so much history and culture all over the place, bike rental in London is the best way to see the sights. Just hire a bike from our hub in Southwark and the city’s yours to explore!
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THE CITY

EXPLORE LONDON ON A BIKE

Rental bike in London, overlooking River Thames
Image credits: Dave Brett from traveldave.co.uk
If you’re keen to conquer London on a rental bike, but don’t know where to start, don’t worry! We’ve got the insights you need to enjoy London’s unmissable sights, as well as tips on the best ways to get there. The good news is that London’s bicycle infrastructure has been transformed in recent years, with eight Cycle Superhighways and seven Quietways connecting the city today. These cycle routes are either completely separate from traffic or on quiet streets away from main roads, so as long as you respect basic British cycling rules, you’ll have a great time with bike rental in London. London’s so huge it can be hard to figure out where to go first. The best way to work is to take one neighbourhood at a time, this way you’ll get the most of your trip. As you’ll soon see, London is a city of great contrasts, and cycling is the perfect way to explore, allowing you all the time you need to discover all its exciting diversity. You’ll enjoy it so much you’ll be telling your friends to rent a bike in London too! 
 
To arrange bike hire in London, just pop along to our shop at Southwark Tube station. Our bicycles are super easy to hire and with just a click of an app you’ll be pedalling free and easy on a cycle superhighway. Also good to know: London cycle maps are available to order here.

CITY AREAS

Cycling in The City

London cyclists on Crispin St
Image credits: Mostaque Chowdhury (CC0)
The City of London is the oldest part of the British capital, and has been around since Roman times. It stretches along the north-eastern bank of the Thames from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge. You’ll find its tiny streets and winding lanes perfect for exploring by bike, with beautiful historic churches, cosy pubs, and a stunning covered market. This is also the home of London’s financial and legal giants, so you can marvel at your reflection as you and your rental bike whizz by the glass towers that seem to grow like weeds in this part of London. You might recognise sights such as the Bank of England, the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, and the Cheese Grater as you spin by.
 
Culture vultures shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the huge variety of performances and exhibitions at the Barbican Centre or relive the city’s amazing history at the Museum of London. You’ll be glad you decided on a bike rental in London, because you can travel between sights in next to no time.
 
Before you go, venture north of London Wall to the trendy area of Spitalfields with its unique market and cafes, the centre of a hipster boom that has spread outwards to Shoreditch and Dalston. If all that pedalling makes you hungry, you’ll be spoilt for choice with dishes from around the world on the mouth-watering menus of Brick Lane’s curry houses.

Cycling around Westminster

Bicycle in Hyde Park
Image credits: Magnus D (CC0)
If the City is all about business, Westminster is all about power. This is where you’ll find the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, then pedal past 10 Downing Street, and the site of many a royal wedding, Westminster Abbey. Not to mention all of London’s main royal palaces and parks. The East-West Cycle Superhighway is a great way to get around quickly, with plenty of opportunities to take a rest whenever you need to. If it’s sunny, you could even park your rental bike and take a picnic in any of the royal parks that dot the area. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens have miles of paths to explore on your rental bike, while Green Park and St James’ Park are perfect for a picnic. Grab a delicious sandwich from M&S Simply Food on Piccadilly, and soak up the atmosphere.
                          
Of course, with your rental bike London becomes a lot smaller. You’ll get from one end of The Mall to the other in minutes. Here you can see Trooping the Colour in June, not to mention the lions of Trafalgar Square and guards at Buckingham Palace all year round. Some of London’s most famous art galleries and museums are nearby, with the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery on Trafalgar Square, the Royal Academy of Arts a quick cycle down Piccadilly, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall itself. There are some very fancy hotels on Park Lane you can stare at from your rental bike, including the world-famous Dorchester Hotel, and the London Hilton on Hyde Park. You’ll be glad of your decision to rent a bike in London when you think of your shoe leather!

Cycling through Kensington and Chelsea

Bicycle in Notting Hill, London
Image credits: Laurent Dussimon (CC0)
Just a few pedals from all that power and royalty, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a welcome escape from the tourist hordes. In Notting Hill, your rental bike will take you through quiet side streets of grand, white terraced houses flanked by black iron railings. The neighbourhood is peppered with exclusive boutiques and high-end cafes, restaurants and bars. While you might need deeper pockets to hang around this part of town, there’s a lot to see and do.
 
Make a stop at Harrods, perhaps London’s most famous shop, or bike along Knightsbridge to a BBC Prom or concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Museum lovers are again spoilt for choice, with the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum all handily clustered together on Exhibition Road. The newly-refurbished Design Museum is just a short bike ride away on Kensington High Street, right next to Holland Park.

Cycling around the West End

Cyclist in Covent Garden, West End
Image credits: Gerry Knight (CC0)
Known to Londoners as the West End, this area of London covers many diverse and interesting neighbourhoods, including swanky Mayfair with its members-only clubs, sexy Soho with its gay nightclubs and pubs, theatrical Covent Garden, literary Bloomsbury and aromatic Chinatown. When you pedal away you’ll see a huge variety of people and places - thankfully with your rental bike London can be explored at your own pace.
 
In this part of the city, a different neighbourhood is just a turn of the wheel away. There are bookshops by the dozen on Charing Cross Road, while just across the street you can park your rental bike and enjoy an opera or ballet, a play, or the latest musical at Covent Garden or on Shaftesbury Avenue. With bike hire in London you can see the sights and enjoy Theatreland’s delights, all without getting out of breath!
 
If you want to stop and shop, London’s main shopping area is along Oxford Street, Regent’s Street and Tottenham Court Road. Find a safe place to lock up your rental bike before venturing here, as the mix of buses and black cabs pack the streets and make it difficult for bicycles. Shopping favourites include the unique department stores of Selfridges and Liberty, and Hamleys toy shop.

Cycling along the South Bank

Rental bike in London, South Bank
Image credits: Dave Brett from traveldave.co.uk
The south bank of the Thames from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge is known by Londoners simply as ‘the South Bank’. It’s where people come to watch the city lights at sunset from The London Eye, gasp at the horrors of The London Dungeon, or just watch the penguins at the SEA LIFE Aquarium. It’s a great place to cycle, too.
 
If you love music, theatre, film or contemporary art - this is the place to be. From the concerts, libraries and theatre of the Southbank Centre, to the movie retrospectives at British Film Institute there’s an embarrassment of cultural riches to discover as you ride your rental bike along by the Thames. The National Theatre even offers many of the latest, greatest plays for £10 a ticket.
 
Hop on your rental bike and pedal further downstream, where you can visit a reconstructed Globe Theatre, catch the latest installation in Tate Modern’s turbine hall, or stand amazed at the tiny Golden Hinde once sailed by Sir Francis Drake. It’s hard to miss the Clink Prison Museum when you cycle down Clink Street, and from here it’s only a few hundred metres along the bankside to WWII warship HMS Belfast. With your bike rental, London’s Southbank is easy and quick to navigate – making sure you don’t have to miss a thing.

Cycling through North London

Girl cycling at Primrose Hill
Image credits: Paul Birnie (CC0)
Just to the north of central London, you’ll love the green spaces of Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath. With your trusty rental bike by your side, you can cover the miles easily, reaching Regent’s Park in no time, where you’ll discover ZSL London Zoo or perhaps take in a play at the open-air theatre. You only need to cross Prince Albert Road from there and you’re on the green slopes of Primrose Hill. From here or from Hampstead Heath you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the London city skyline. If you decide to bike further north for views, Parliament Hill is your best bet, and on the way you can look for a bargain at the quirky Camden market.
                
If you’re a fan of BBC’s Sherlock - or, you know, all those books - you might want to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street before heading north, then make a pilgrimage to Speedy’s Café in Camden. You’re unlikely to find Benedict Cumberbatch there, but their hearty all-day breakfast might just make up for it.
 
If you fancy a refreshing swim on the Heath, the outdoor lido at Parliament Hill is a great place to unwind after your exertions, while the Parliament Hill Farmer’s Market is a great place to pick up something to eat and drink on Saturdays. Why not treat yourself? You’ll have worked up an appetite after all that cycling!

BIKE ROUTES

CYCLING RULES

British cycling rules

Cyclist in London
Image credits: JaeHun LEE (CC0)
Urban cycling is definitely becoming a thing in the United Kingdom, with organisations such as Sustrans or The London Cycling Campaign making admirable efforts to facilitate cycling as a means of transportation. As London’s cycling infrastructure rapidly improves, it's important to ensure everybody stays safe on the streets. Here are some of the most important rules and requirements to consider when biking in the UK.

Bicycle requirements in the UK

Lights | Front and rear lights are mandatory between sunset and sunrise.

Reflectors | Your rental bike must also have a red rear reflector and four pedal ones.

Brakes | Two braking systems are mandatory - generally, the right-hand lever is for the front brake and the left-hand lever for the rear brake.

Bell | You don't require a bike bell, but it's definitely a good idea to have one. A polite but determined, chiefly British "Excuse me" can also work as a less aggressive warning device. 

Helmet | Cycling helmets are also not mandatory, but highly recommended in the UK.

Do's and don'ts on a bike in the UK

  • Always ride your rental bike on the left-hand side of the roadway, and never ever go against the traffic flow (unless you are on a two-way cycle lane separated from traffic, such as the new Cycle Superhighways).
  • It's not mandatory to use the cycle lanes, but it’s better if available.
  • Sometimes, there are lanes for both cyclists and pedestrians. If they are segregated, stick to the side intended for cyclists.
  • Don't cycle on footpaths and sidewalks.
  • You can ride across cycle-only crossings and Toucan crossings - light-controlled, shared by cyclists and pedestrians. Walk your rental bike on any other type of crossing.
  • Always stop at a red light. ALWAYS (yes, even when there's nobody around). You can sometimes wait ahead of the rest of the traffic, at advanced stop lines for cyclists.
  • If a bus stops at a bus stop, you must wait behind. Try to stop in a place the bus driver can see you – that is, make sure you can see the bus’s side mirrors.
  • Don't carry passengers on your rental bike, unless the bicycle is built to carry one (e.g. has a baby carriage).
  • When approaching a junction on the left, beware of cars turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left. Pay extra attention to those nasty big trucks, they're pretty dangerous to cycle next to, especially at junctions. 
  • When turning right, check the traffic to ensure it is safe, then signal and move to the centre of the road. Wait for a safe gap in the oncoming traffic and give a final look before finally turning.
  • If you’re turning right somewhere where there’s a mandatory two-stage turn in place, move to the marked waiting area, and then turn when the signal turns green. This can also be necessary for some left turns where there is a two-way cycle lane. Watch out for the signs. Further safety information is available here.
  • Biking under the influence is a big no-no, as you’d expect. There is no legal limit in the UK for the alcohol volume accepted when riding a bike, but the police can decide whether you able to ride safely and give you an up to £2500 fine.

Hand signals for cycling in the UK

Turning right | Extend the right arm perpendicular to the body.

Turning left | Extend the right arm perpendicular to the body.

Stopping | Use the same signals as the ones for turning, depending on the side you're getting off to. While you'll see many Brits doing this only telepathically, stick to it for your own safety.

 

Read more on British cycling rules and requirements here and here.