Cycling in London

It’s not a secret that in my opinion cycling is the best way to commute to work. I’ve been doing that for nearly a decade already and would hope more people would consider doing it as well as it’s not just a green and healthy habit, it can also save you money and time. I started commuting to work by bike when I was still in Finland and when coming to UK it was a natural choice to continue cycling although it took some time to gather my courage and to get myself to cycle among the busy traffic here in London. You may have heard the reputation cycling in London has but trust me, it’s a lot safer to that most things.

I do love cycling and for me it’s sometimes even the best part of the day. At least the part when it’s time to cycle back home after a work day. I couldn’t imagine my life without it and I’d say my mental health would be in a lot worse shape (not that I think that’s a problem anyways) as cycling can be very therapeutic. I’ve solved major work problems while cycling and had some personal issues figured out as well. I remember when I used to share a room with my colleague and she always knew when I had taken a bus to work because I showed up to work already having a bad mood by the emails I read on my way to work. Another good reason to consider cycling to work, you can’t read your emails while getting there!

Cycling on the wrong side of the street

This was obviously one of my biggest concerns when I decided to take the leap of faint and take my precious new bike for its first ride almost exactly 3 years ago. As I mentioned briefly, I used to cycle to work back in Finland as well and obviously in Finland we have a right sided traffic. I still remember how nervous I was to take my foot from the ground and almost felt an urge to close my eyes and just hope that no-one’s going to hit me. Luckily I was worrying for nothing, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly! The first mile may be rough but it’s like riding a bike after that. So far I’ve been cycling on the wrong side of the street only once and that happened about two years ago when I had spent 3 weeks in US and southern Europe and was about to cycle my bike back from Kew to Chelsea. Fortunately I was in Kew where’s hardly any traffic and I realised my mistake before the upcoming vehicle was too close to me. Not sure what would be the case if I’d try to cycle among a right sided traffic now…

Safer than it looks like

Cycling in London is not nearly as dangerous than everyone thinks however it’s good to remember that there are quite serious accidents happening frequently and you need to pay a lot of attention when your cycling among traffic. I’ve never understood how anyone can have their headphones on and listen to music while cycling on the busy roads. Hearing is one of the most crucial senses for me when trying to stay on top of what’s happening around me while cycling. The city has improved a lot of its infrastructure to facilitate better cycling routes and based on your route you can even enjoy one of the cycling super highways nowadays.

Based on my experience cyclists are mostly respected among the other traffic. Unfortunately there are always some idiots behind the wheels who are doing their best to ruin your mood and in worst case, will put you into a big danger. Unfortunately I feel there are even more reckless other cyclists who are actually putting you into an even worse danger. If you’re cycling more central, especially nearby tourist attractions, the pedestrians who are paying too much attention to their phones or just by another reason walking into a cycling line without checking are the biggest threat for you. I’ve cycled here for 3 years now and only been hit by a car once!

Did you cycled to work today?

It’s funny how fascinated some people can be when they realise you’re actually commuting to work by cycling. My previous office was outside of London and my commute was 18 miles (30 km) each way and to be honest, nowadays I’m questing myself how I managed to cycle that 180 miles a week. There were several questions I got used to answer to like how long my commute is and how much time does it take as well as do I cycle everyday however by far the most common question was did I cycled to work on that day. It’s not like anyone would ask if you drove to work that day if you mainly did so. Usually those people asking that question would also comment how they should exercise more and start cycling as well. And one of the funny things in my old office was that there seemed to be way more people knowing me and that I cycled to work than coworkers I knew from the office. In my current place I usually get questions if I haven’t cycled to work and feel like I almost have to justify the reason for it. For some reason e.g. them seeing me constantly blowing my nose is not a clear enough sign why I choose not to cycle. By the way, in times like these cycling is also perfect if you want to avoid big crowds and not catching a deadly virus from a person coughing next to you in a train.

Best things about cycling to work

There are several things why I think cycling is the best way to commute to work. The below picture (taken yesterday) can help understand one of them; you’re able to spend time outdoors, cycling in a picture-perfect scenery which you’d probably missed otherwise. I just love when I can cycle on a street right next to Thames when the sun is about to rise. The traffic in London can be quite bad and I actually have a shorter commute when I cycle compared to taking a train. I quite enjoy when I just can pedal past all the traffic ahead of me. As I mentioned my old office was outside London and the cost of commuting there was quite big and by cycling I actually was able to save quite a lot of money. Obviously getting your twice a day extra exercise is a good upside as well.

Unfortunately with the current pandemic raging around us I won’t be cycling to work for the next two weeks as our company announces yesterday everyone to work from home. As I can’t think spending that time without cycling outdoors, I’ll probably will do some cycling before and/or after finishing my remote work day.


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