Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through London

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mjr
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by mjr »

Tonyf33 wrote:. As for when it is dark, if you are cycling on the road you'll need lights anyway, a £17 set of lights will light up any unlit route http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CREE-XML-XM-L ... 484bd3563c

Unless aimed very low into the ground, that's dazzling and therefore illegal for road use, isn't it? Buy a cheap German or Dutch set (battery or dynamo) instead: slightly more expensive, but legal more easily.

I've little to add because it's not a route I've ridden all of, but starting from UCL, I'd head east past Russell Square, across Islington and hackney parallel to regent's canal but south of it, then cross it at something I think is called Lock 9 or something like that, then head north. I take wrong turns fairly often but usually reach my destination without anything scary ;-)

I have ridden but wouldn't recommend regent's canal on a small wheeled bike because it's too crowded, the surface isn't great and there's always the water calling to you...
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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aspiringcyclist
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by aspiringcyclist »

mjr wrote:I've little to add because it's not a route I've ridden all of, but starting from UCL, I'd head east past Russell Square, across Islington and hackney parallel to regent's canal but south of it, then cross it at something I think is called Lock 9 or something like that, then head north. I take wrong turns fairly often but usually reach my destination without anything scary ;-)

I have ridden but wouldn't recommend regent's canal on a small wheeled bike because it's too crowded, the surface isn't great and there's always the water calling to you...


As I said I have a route if I can take the lea river. What I don't have is route that doesn't involve the towpath. I enter the towpath near Seven Sisters tube station so would need to be able to get from there to Waltham Cross ( or perhaps from somewhere else) and the A1010 seems like the only way.
Tonyf33
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by Tonyf33 »

mjr wrote:
Tonyf33 wrote:. As for when it is dark, if you are cycling on the road you'll need lights anyway, a £17 set of lights will light up any unlit route http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CREE-XML-XM-L ... 484bd3563c

Unless aimed very low into the ground, that's dazzling and therefore illegal for road use, isn't it? Buy a cheap German or Dutch set (battery or dynamo) instead: slightly more expensive, but legal more easily.

Have you actually used these lights? I have and there is nothing wrong with them, as I atested to earlier this year and last, my son drove toward me and he said there was no problem, I've used them often on unlit roads and I think I'd get the full beam flash by oncoming vehicles if there was a problem. The fact it need only be on the 2nd setting for unlit roads & the OP would only need that level of brightness for a cycle lane along a reservoir in any case I don't see where the problem is to be honest.
As for illegal..ALL modern cars have brighter lights that have a much further throw and a fair proportion are not levelled properly either, then add in a good chunk of them with the gas discharge and newer LED lights that are intensely bright and blinding then these bike lights are no comparison whatsoever. The police nor DfT are even remotely bothered or interested in curtailing new motor vehicles with lights that are too bright in any case.
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Slow Loris
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by Slow Loris »

aspiringcyclist wrote:As I said I have a route if I can take the lea river. What I don't have is route that doesn't involve the towpath. I enter the towpath near Seven Sisters tube station so would need to be able to get from there to Waltham Cross ( or perhaps from somewhere else) and the A1010 seems like the only way.


I posted a bit of a lengthy monologue :wink: upthread which mentions the free TFL cycling maps as a good way to plan quieter routes. Just had a quick look at Guide 2 which covers Waltham Cross to Tottenham. From what I can see it's not impossible to avoid the A1010 and use smaller roads (not alleyways) – it's less direct but you'll probably find it more enjoyable. I don't know the A1010 but it this were me, I'd have a look before ruling it out completely – some sections of A roads are better than others.

aspiringcyclist wrote:how common are things like tailgating or very close passes? The A1010 is only one lane for each direction and can have parked cars.


Going by your description, I would ride in primary (in the centre of the lane) to avoid the door zone of parked cars, and to deter close passes. In rush hour traffic is likely to be moving slowly so you are more able to keep up the same speed. I try to cycle confidently and find close passes rarer than when I first started. More common is tailgating in heavy traffic – it's rarely malicious, more that drivers don't consider keeping a safe distance. I frequently turn round and make eye contact if I'm concerned someone is creeping towards my back wheel. As mentioned in my previous post, some councils offer free one to one cycle training – I've found this very helpful in the past. You may also find others commuting to your uni from the same area who could provide company en route.
Apologies for another lengthy monologue, but good luck :) .
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mjr
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by mjr »

Tonyf33 wrote:Have you actually used these lights? I have and there is nothing wrong with them, as I atested to earlier this year and last, my son drove toward me and he said there was no problem, I've used them often on unlit roads and I think I'd get the full beam flash by oncoming vehicles if there was a problem. ... The police nor DfT are even remotely bothered or interested in curtailing new motor vehicles with lights that are too bright in any case.

No <moderated>. I look forward to your measurements or reports of the standards approval markings on them, rather than anecdotes. Most drivers probably do not realise some bike lights can be dipped so lack of full beam flash is hardly definitive. Police did seem to start taking notice of bad lights near the end of last winter but mainly coloured lights on cars so far.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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aspiringcyclist
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by aspiringcyclist »

Slow Loris wrote:
I posted a bit of a lengthy monologue :wink: upthread which mentions the free TFL cycling maps as a good way to plan quieter routes. Just had a quick look at Guide 2 which covers Waltham Cross to Tottenham. From what I can see it's not impossible to avoid the A1010 and use smaller roads (not alleyways) – it's less direct but you'll probably find it more enjoyable. I don't know the A1010 but it this were me, I'd have a look before ruling it out completely – some sections of A roads are better than others.


Thank you. The guides looks interesting. Surprised that they don't seem to be available online. I will probably incorporate main roads more as I build confidence.

Slow Loris wrote:
Going by your description, I would ride in primary (in the centre of the lane) to avoid the door zone of parked cars, and to deter close passes. In rush hour traffic is likely to be moving slowly so you are more able to keep up the same speed. I try to cycle confidently and find close passes rarer than when I first started. More common is tailgating in heavy traffic – it's rarely malicious, more that drivers don't consider keeping a safe distance. I frequently turn round and make eye contact if I'm concerned someone is creeping towards my back wheel. As mentioned in my previous post, some councils offer free one to one cycle training – I've found this very helpful in the past. You may also find others commuting to your uni from the same area who could provide company en route.
Apologies for another lengthy monologue, but good luck :) .


Yes I brought up the parked cars because of the door zone and the lack of space to overtake a lot of the time and the subsequent irritation. I have been on the A1010 by bus a few times and I remember it being quite slow but traffic will always feel faster when you're on a bike...
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Slow Loris
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by Slow Loris »

TFL have changed their website since I last looked. It took some searching, but here's a link to those maps:
https://tfl.gov.uk/forms/12419.aspx

Don't underestimate what you can do on a bike - it's often easy enough to match the speed of motorists in rush hour, and you are just as much traffic as they are. A bus will feel unbearably slow in comparison :wink: .
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by aspiringcyclist »

Slow Loris wrote:TFL have changed their website since I last looked. It took some searching, but here's a link to those maps:
https://tfl.gov.uk/forms/12419.aspx

Don't underestimate what you can do on a bike - it's often easy enough to match the speed of motorists in rush hour, and you are just as much traffic as they are. A bus will feel unbearably slow in comparison :wink: .


That is the page I found before but I had to order the maps.

I'm exited to try out what road bikes are like - especially their speed.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by Flinders »

[quote="ArMoRothair"

If you will be locking your bike outside UCL ................[/quote]

When I was there (many years ago) the moron we had for a Provost at the time decided bikes in the quad were untidy, and had them all cut from the railings one day without warning and just left there to be nicked. The people doing the cutting couldn't cut my main lock, but cut the other one anyway, just out of spite, I suppose. :evil:

My tutor had to restrain me from heading straight to the Provost's office in a #1 rage. :mrgreen:

I hope they now have some cycle parking. :roll:
mercalia
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by mercalia »

I would be tempted to get a portable bike for the days it raining down hard then take it on the bus or train. 13 miles 2 ways in the rain/cold not nice, but tolerable if u bike/train
burnsie
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by burnsie »

my 2d worth.....agree most bikes should be ok; from what people say, you might be better using the roads-while you say you've sussed out the tow path, have you done so during your actual travel hours (apols if this is insulting!)..and getting hold of a copy of city cycling by Richard Balantine might be useful-plenty of good advice in there as well.

Go for it and enjoy!

Dave
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by monkeytennis »

I've used my folding bike on the roads of Glasgow for just under a year now and the road surface is rubbish. Same with most cycle lanes up here as well. OK the small wheels make a rough surface feel rougher (only 20inch) but works fab to be able to bring my bike into work with me, and fits the flat nicely.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by AndyBSG »

If it's the towpath from Enfield Lock down to Springfield park then it's perfectly good for cycling on, i've been down there a few times on my road bike but not cycled the entire length of the section your looking at so proqably worth a dry run one weekend just to check the surface.

As mentioned, it does get pretty busy down there during peak hours though and you'll find your speed limited a fair bit by pedestrians and other cyclists.

Personally, when i'm in that area I prefer to go down the A1010 but i'd avoid the A10 during rush hour like the plague. You can make good speed on it compared to the metal cans on wheels that are stuck in gridlock but every junction is taking your life in your hands.
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by Vorpal »

A couple things about commuting, even on main roads....

Try all of the routes. Try them different days, or ride each for a week at a time. Get to know them well. It will provide you with variety in what may otherwise become repetitive. It will also give you alternatives in case of closures or problems.

I think what may seem intimidating now, will seem less so as you gain confidence. Agressive driving does occur, and more frequently in London than other places. However, it's not so common as all those videos on YouTube would have you think.

That said, there is quite a bit that an individual cyclist can do to prevent and avoid bad experiences on the road. Get a book called Cyclecraft by John Franklin http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/

As for bikes... have a look at what's available at http://www.stationbicycles.co.uk/ They carry practical second hand bikes that have been serviced and checked over.

A full sized bike will probably be more comfortable and faster, though I know people ride folding bikes for long distances. A folding bike does have the advantage that it will go on the train.

If it were me, I would make a list of purchase criteria, then go ride some bikes. Probably at more than one shop. I think that LCC have a list bike shops on their site.

Some criteria for purchase that you may want to include are:
*size - it's got to be the right size for you or it won't be comfortable to commute on; a fitting is best, or help from a knowledgeable professional
*takes mudguards - this is important for bad weather riding; otherwise you'll end up with slurry of road gunge up your back
*luggage carrying capacity - will you need to carry books? laptop or tablet? clothes? You will probably want a rack if you need to regularly carry more than just puncture repair equipment
*takes winter tyres - if you plan to commute year round, you may want to put winter tyres on the bike; if so, it will need extra clearance for those tyres
*gearing - this might not be so important if you have a flat commute and only light luggage, but if you also want to do the shopping on it, or have some hills to consider (I don't know the route), you may want low gears.

Other than that, you may have your own criteria, such as type of handlebars,
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aspiringcyclist
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Re: Help with choosing bike type and/or commute through Lond

Post by aspiringcyclist »

burnsie wrote:my 2d worth.....agree most bikes should be ok; from what people say, you might be better using the roads-while you say you've sussed out the tow path, have you done so during your actual travel hours (apols if this is insulting!)..and getting hold of a copy of city cycling by Richard Balantine might be useful-plenty of good advice in there as well.

Go for it and enjoy!

Dave


I've done it at around 5pm - this is earlier than I would do it ordinarly if a typical day at university ends 4:30 - 5:00. I'm not sure how much more busy it gets but it was quite clear at that time.

Thank you for your recommendation. I'll check it out.
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