First things first – if you have any health concerns, please consult your GP before taking up cycling.

Choosing a bike

The three things to consider are:

  • where you’re going to ride your bike
  • your height
  • how much you have to spend

If you just want to go for short rides around town, then an old bike with a few gears is perfectly serviceable.  A hybrid would be more suitable for longer trips and commuting, while a mountain bike is better for cycling off-road.  Then there’s the speedy road bike for those who have a good level of cycling experience and want to burn some miles. 

It’s a good idea to visit a reputable bicycle shop and ask for advice on the right size of bike (they should measure you) and the model best suited to your needs.  If you have an old bike, they should be able to service it to check that it’s roadworthy.  

Finally, you will need to buy a lock if you intend to leave your bike in public places. 

The following bike shops are in Tower Hamlets:

Learning to ride a bike

If you’ve never ridden a bike before or just want to improve your confidence on the roads then it’s wise to take some lessons. 

Tower Hamlets Cycling Club

Based at Mile End Stadium, the club offers lessons on Saturdays between 10am-12pm to women and girls.  One to one training is also available.  You can borrow a club bike if you don’t have your own.  They are particularly keen to encourage people from ethnic minorities, senior citizens and those with disabilities.

Contact Janice Djelloul at towerhamletscyclingclub@yahoo.co.uk or on 07423069863 for further details.

Bikeworks East

Bikeworks East offer free Bikeability training for both adults and children.  Their address is 138-140 Cambridge Heath Road, London E1 5QJ. 

CTC

Accredited instructors are available through the CTC.  You can read more about cycle training on their website.

Once you’ve completed your training, there are plenty of traffic-free spaces within Tower Hamlets to practice riding your bike, such as Weavers Fields, Mile End Park and Victoria Park.

What to wear

  • High visibility clothing, such as a reflective vest, arm and leg bands.
  • A helmet is always advisable.  Again, it’s best to go to a bike shop for advice on fit and cost.
  • Comfortable clothing that fits close to the body, so that it won’t get caught in the wheels or pedals.
  • Sensible shoes that cover the whole foot.

Basic safety

  • So, you’ve completed your training and feel ready to take to the road.  Here are a few pointers towards basic safety:
  • Be seen and be heard.  Wear high visibility clothing, make sure your bicycle has a bell and always use lights when it’s dark.
  • Be alert to what’s going on around you.  Do not wear headphones or chat on your mobile …
  • Check your bike regularly to make sure that the tyres are inflated properly and brakes are working.
  • Plan your route.  There are free cycling maps available on the TFL website.
  • Always follow the Highway Code.
  • There are some useful tips on cycling safety and cycling near lorries on the TFL website.