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london life n cycling in london

n Cyclists enjoying the greener side of London

Mind the Gap Tours

Freewheelin’ The capital is great for exploring on two wheels. Julie Thompson gets on her bike to show the way


l A helmet is essential wherever you cycle, but particularly on uneven riverside surfaces.

l A bell is useful, especially as cycle paths are often

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london cycle hire scheme

Mind the Gap Tours

shared with pedestrians. l You should wear reflective clothing and use lights at night, white at the front and red at the rear. You may be fined £30 without them. l At traffic lights, wait in front of other vehicles using the advance stop line for cyclists, if there is one. Don’t ride through a red light; you may be fined £30. l Ensure your bicycle is in good condition with working brakes and good tyres. More safety tips and scenic cycle routes can be found on the London Cycling Campaign website (, Sustrans ( and n On your bike the London Cycle Network ( For information on taking your bike on public transport, go to, while Visit London ( has excellent tips and route advice on cycling in the capital.

The introduction of “Boris bikes” (named after London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson) in July 2010 has made using a bike around London easier for residents and visitors alike. The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has over 6,000 bikes in more than 400 locations in London’s Zone One travel area. With docking stations across nine London boroughs and in several Royal Parks, as well as the recent introduction of an additional 2,300 bikes and 4,800 extra docking points throughout Hackney and Tower Hamlets, getting around London

using the bikes couldn’t be easier. Find your nearest docking station and, after paying your £1 access fee, you can use your bike for up to 24 hours, with increasing costs for the time used (for example, one hour costs just £1 while three hours costs £15). However, the first 30 minutes are free, so return your bike to a docking station within that time and you will only pay the access fee. If you live in London and plan to use a Boris bike at least once a week, membership of the cycle hire scheme is quick and easy, but for one-off or occasional hiring, you simply swipe a credit card at the docking station. For costs and a detailed map showing locations and bike availability go to the tfl website:

Transport for London 2005

f you are looking for a great way to explore London, cutting travelling costs and being green at the same, as well as benefitting from some good exercise, then get on your bike and see the best of the city from the saddle. The introduction of cycle lanes and the public cycle hire scheme has made riding a bike in the capital easier and more enjoyable. Here’s our guide to London on two wheels:

essential tips and links

n The cycle hire scheme

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london life n cycling in london

touring by bike

did you know?

If you want to explore more extensively by bike, there are several companies that hire out mountain or hybrid bikes (a cross between mountain and road bikes) and offer tours. The London Bicycle Tour Company ( offers reasonably-priced bike rentals, as well as cycle tours of London, with or without bike hire, including a night tour and an Olympics tour. Mind the Gap Bike Tours ( uses vintage-style bikes with bells and optional baskets, offering guided cycle tours to Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. Fat Tire Bike Tours ( offers a Royal London bike tour or the River

l There are about a billion bicycles in the world, twice as many as there are cars.

l The first five-seat bicycle, the quindem, was built in

n Tower Bridge from the saddle

Capital Tours


Greenwich most of the remaining riverside cycling is on relatively quiet roads. Be aware though; some sections of the Thames Path have public footpath status and cyclists cannot ride there without permission from the landowner – and cycling on a public footpath without permission is trespass.

l The 900 piles forming the foundations of the Olympics’ Velodrome had to be driven up to 85 feet into the ground – deeper than usual for a building of this size because the venue is built on top of a 100-year-old landfill site. l Since the Boris Bikes scheme was launched, there have been over 10 million cycle hires to date.

thames path national trail For carefree cycling, take your bike to the banks of the Thames, which has long stretches of traffic-free cycle paths. Most of the cycle route that follows the Thames is on the Thames Path National Trail (, one of the 19 designated national trails in the UK. It runs from the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier at Greenwich. Follow the non-tidal section from Hampton to Teddington Lock and then take the north or south bank routes from Teddington to Chiswick and Hammersmith. Between Hammersmith and Putney bridges, the south bank route is mostly traffic-free. If you continue on to

Spring 2012

n Towpath along the Grand Union Canal

Mind the Gap Tours

n Enjoying Hampton Court

suits you For families: Explore some of the 27 miles of pathway within the 10,000 acres of Lee Valley Regional Park, where the kids can enjoy the marshes and wildlife along the way. For couples: Take a pedicab; these three-wheeled cycle rickshaws seat two or three people and let you see the sights while someone else does the pedalling! For value: Pay your £1 access fee and pick up your Boris bike for a 30-minute excursion into one of London’s parks. Take a lunch break and pick up another bike for another half-hour; you will not pay any more. n Students take For luxury: Enjoy a to London's roads vintage bike tour with Mind the Gap tours, taking in a civilised train journey, a gorgeous vintage bike ride taking in Hampton Court or Windsor Castle and a pub lunch. l Mind the Gap Tours is offering tlm readers a special 25% DISCOUNT of its tours. Book online ( and enter the promotional code, TLM25.You must book your tour before the end of May 2012 and travel by the end of October 2012. Riders must be over five feet tall to participate. Terms and conditions apply.


Thames bike tour using California beach cruiser-style bicycles, while Capital Sport ( has a range of multi-day tours in London and beyond, including classic or luxury accommodation.

Several London bike routes follow the Thames. The Thames Cultural Cycling Tour is a 17-mile route which takes in London’s maritime history; Visit London ( has a downloadable map of the route. Cycling is also permitted along the canal stretches north of the Thames, although some sections do require a permit ( Two other recommended cycle routes go along Thames tributaries. Lee Valley (, in the north-east, has 26 miles of traffic-free cycling and is also home to the Velodrome Olympic Games cycling venue. The 14-mile Wandle Trail ( follows the River Wandle from Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth, allowing you to enjoy the flora and fauna of this chalk stream right through some of South London’s most industrialised landscapes.

Kingston Cycling Campaign

n Buckingham Palace by bike

Capital Tours

other london bike routes

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a hand-built, 88-foot rowbarge with 18 oarsmen, will head the flotilla. Next will be boats carrying the flags of the Commonwealth nations followed by the royal section, including the flagship Royal Barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, on which the Queen will travel. For more information on the pageant, go to

Diamond days London will do what it does best in the coming months with displays of pomp and pageantry to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Here are some key events:

Family fortunes

On Sunday, June 3, in Battersea Park, the Diamond Jubilee Festival will reflect design, music, fashion, art, film and food from the Queen’s six-decade reign, with the park divided into zones including a tea dance, vintage hair and make-up and an alternative village fete. For more information go to or

Regal song and dance Celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee begin in May when The World Comes to Windsor event takes place over four evenings in Windsor. Celebrating more than 250 state and Commonwealth visits that the Queen has made during her 60-year reign, the show will involve over 500 horses and 800 performers, with military and equestrian displays and musicians and dancers from around the globe, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Maoris, Maasai warriors, Zulu dancers and Russian Cossacks. The pageant takes place from May 10-13, with the Queen attending the Sunday evening performance. Tickets for the Diamond Jubilee Pageant are priced between £30 and £100. For more details, go to


n Royal rowbarge, Gloriana

n Windsor Castle

J Sainsbury's

A major highlight of the June jubilee celebrations will be the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, when up to 1,000 boats will take part in the largest Thames flotilla for 350 years. Over seven miles long, it will consist of tugs, armed forces vessels, fishing and cargo boats and pleasure boats, all decorated with streamers and union flags. Dunkirk little ships, wooden launches and steam vessels will be alongside passenger boats carrying up to 30,000 flag-waving members of the public. Music barges will separate the 10 sections of the flotilla, the first being a floating bell tower, its chiming bells being answered by church bells along the route. Downriver of London Bridge, there will be a gun salute and the flotilla will pass through The Avenue of Sail, made up of traditional Thames sailing boats, tall ships, square riggers plus the replica of Sir Francis Drake’s galleon, the Golden Hinde, and the 204-year-old oyster smack Boudicea, the oldest sailing boat still afloat in Europe. Rowed and paddled boats, led by Gloriana,

2012 Diamond Jubilee

Sail of the centuries

London’s parks will play host to several festivals over the Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, including the Jubilee Family Festival presented by Sainsbury’s taking place in Hyde Park on June 2-3. Up to 50,000 visitors will see celebrity performers and dancers, equestrian events and motorcycle displays, with a 70-minute Disney concert finale each day.

n Fireman Sam and festival friends

five-month festival of international cabaret, music and circus will take over part of the South Bank from May 8, with Australian circus act Cantina headlining The London Wonderground event.


The 600-capacity Spiegeltent will be at its heart, with circus acts and side shows bringing a taste of Coney Island to the south side of the river until September 30. Meanwhile, the E4 Udderbelly Festival, with

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its distinctive, upsidedown purple cow tent venue, is under way and hosts music and comedy events until July 8 alongside the Spiegeltent. For more information on both events, go to

Underbelly Venues

Going Wonderground

n E4 Udderbelly at Southbank Centre

Spring 2012

Sunday 13 May 2012 Visit: Email: Tel: 020 7566 0311 In partnership with

The Stroke Association is registered as a Charity in England and Wales (No 211015) and in Scotland (SC037789). Also registered in Isle of Man (No 945), Jersey (NPO 369) and in Northern Ireland.

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