Walking and Biking: Getting around London

Just because London boasts a comprehensive and efficient public transit system doesn’t mean you should feel you have to take the Tube everywhere. Like many cities, much of London can be explored without ever going underground or boarding a bus.

Here are some recommendations for taking on London by foot or by pedal.

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Barclay's Cycle Hire

Barclay's Cycle Hire, providing stations full of bright blue bicycles for public use, is a great way to get around London. Photo: Charlotte Gilhooly.

Walking London

We always extol the virtues of walking. Traversing a city on foot is not only free; it allows one to really take in the sights and sounds. In fact, we think "getting lost" (meandering aimlessly—safely, of course) is one of the best ways to get to know a place. And London is no different. Yes, there are many different neighborhoods, and getting from one to another might be time consuming. But most 'hoods themselves are extremely walkable.

Biking London

Circling the city on two wheels is equally rewarding, and it’s easier than ever with London’s Barclay’s Cycle Hire system, which has around 6,000 bikes at 400 locations throughout the Zone One travel area.

How it works

First, you’ll purchase "access" for a one- or seven-day period. Then, you can rent a bike at any docking station in the city. Simply insert a credit card into the pay terminal to receive a five-digit release code, which you’ll enter into the keypad to release your bike. The green light is your cue that your code has been received and the bike is yours for the taking. Note that release codes must be used within 10 minutes of receiving.

What it costs

Access costs £2 for 24 hours or £10 for seven days and can be purchased either online or at a docking station. Your access period begins the first time you insert your credit card in a terminal, and each time you visit thereafter you’ll be alerted as to how much time remains in your access period.

On top of the access charge, usage charges may apply. Each time you pick up a bike you have 30 minutes of free use. After that, fees start at £1 for up to an hour and go up from there.

(Cheapo tip: To avoid usage charges, return your bike before 30 minutes, and you can pick up another.)

If a station is full when you arrive, check the terminal for the location of the nearest available and to receive up to 15 minutes of extra time to cycle there. Any usage fees are debited from your account at the end of the access period.

Additional information

Check out the Transport for London website for more on biking in London. And if you need information on other ways to get around London, click into the links below.

Related articles:

The Oyster card
The London Underground
London city buses
Taxis in London

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