London cyclists by the House of Commons

‘Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race’ (H.G.Wells)

You’ve probably seen David Cameron or Boris Johnson doing it – but don’t let that put you off! Cycling is increasingly becoming the most fashionable way of getting around London.

It’s not quite reached Amsterdam or Copenhagen levels, where every other person seems to be riding a bike, but cyclists are becoming more and more ubiquitous on the streets of London.

Whilst the Underground is arguably the most efficient and practical way of navigating the city, there is definitely something to say for enjoying the scenic delights of London while in transit.

Buses serve this purpose reasonably well – particularly if you seat yourself on the top deck. But for a more visceral, at-one-with-nature experience, you simply cannot beat a bicycle.

Of course, the growth in popularity of the humble bike is unlikely to be down to the sight of our esteemed new Primer Minister regularly cycling to work, or indeed the surreal and ungainly image of Boris’ haystack of blonde hair swirling in the wind as he makes his way across the Big Smoke.

More likely factors are a heighted awareness of environmental issues, a tightening of purse strings amid the recession, and a greater interest in health and fitness.

The authorities have certainly taken notice of this spike in cycling. Two cycle superhighways are due to open this summer – corridors of cycle lanes that will lead from south Wimbledon to Bank and Barking to Tower Hill – adding to what is already one of the largest urban cycle networks in Europe. On top of that, there are plans for the introduction of a cycle hire scheme in the Capital.

The sheer size of London may scare off many would-be cyclists, but any proficient biker should experience few problems. The city’s motorists may not be the most considerate in the world, but they are used to sharing their roads with cyclists, and will generally be tolerant of them.

If you’re not confident enough to confront the city on your own, or with a partner, there are a number of expert tour companies that provide group trips, as well as route suggestions and other useful tips.

These tours are also good for ensuring you experience some of the city’s major historical and contemporary attractions.

BrakeAway Bike Tours operate daily London bike tours. The chief tour guide, Chris Abbott, is London born and raised; yet spent five years living and working in San Francisco, spending some of that time employed as a walking tour guide.  Now back on home territory, Chris’ knowledge and experience makes him possibly one of the best bicycle tours guide in London, largely because he is actually from here – a surprisingly rare commodity in the bicycle tour business.