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The Bike Lane
Photograph: via Photopin (photo credit: Broken Bike via photopin (license)

Ten things you shouldn't do on a bike in London

Written by
Tom Bruce

London’s new Cycle Superhighways will soon be open, but until they arrive many London cyclists must continue to navigate the daily perils of the city's polluted, congested roads. But whether motorists believe it or not, many cyclists are mostly normal human beings with a desire to live. Instead, they are labelled death-wish megalomaniacs because of a minority that engage in the kinds of behaviours best avoided, such as:


A photo posted by Cycle_PS (@cycle_ps) on

1. Wear all black

Don’t be a BBB (Blitz Blackout Bandit). That's one of those WWII recreationists whose hobby is to pretend that the Big Smoke is still under nightly siege by Goering’s Luftwaffe bombers. To avoid being spotted by the Nazi fleet above, these nocturnal cyclists take extreme measures by dressing head-to-toe in a black cotton tracksuit, riding a bike painted in ‘Obsidian Gunmetal’, and using no lights to boot. And their boots? Also black.  

Bike Speakers

 Photograph: Keeping it real via Flickr (license)

2. Blast the gym playlist

The only logical alternative to wearing noise-cancelling headphones for musical motivation while cycling is to obviously attach battery-powered speakers to the frame of your rusting hybrid. And let's not forget the subwoofer in the back. As if inhaling 20 Marlboro reds’ worth of pollution per day wasn’t enough, now we must endure a deafening trap-step remix of Darude's Sandstorm while you roll by.

Caped Crusader

 Photograph: Michigan Municipal League via Flickr (license)

3. Be a caped crusader

Have you seen the fresh gadget craze that's turning Gotham residents green with envy? Now all the rage, these so-called ‘laser lights’ project a massive logo of a human riding a bicycle onto the road about five-to-ten feet out in front of the cyclist, in the name of safety. But motorists and pedestrians alike are too busy gawping at the spotlight to notice its source, so the effect is much the same as that of laser pointers on six-month-old kittens.  


A photo posted by Hannah Roberts (@hanrob_) on

4. Crowd
 up the bike lane

This is the real invasion UKIP should be worried about. Where the hell have all these bike-riding, over-burdened takeaway deliverers come from? They’ve commandeered our streets! They’re seizing control! Being stuck behind a convoy of these living dumbwaiters in the early hours of Friday and Saturday morning as they respond to the orders of the starving hungover masses can be a dangerous situation – but only because it makes you too hungry to think properly. Maybe they could smell-proof the crates? 

5. Cycle
 the dog

Dogs have to be walked. Problem is, walking is boring. A new breed of dog walker has emerged to solve this conundrum: The Dog Cycler. But wait! Bikes can’t be on the pavement! But wait! Dogs can’t be on the road! So what to do? Ah yes, pedal along the curb holding the leash while the dog sprints on the pavement and around the block until it collapses. Multi-tasking at its finest. Not.


6. Drink and ride

One or two drinks you can get away with. If you can handle yourself, three or four might still be acceptable. Any more than that is bang out of order, and you deserve to be banned from the wheels for a good six months, minimum. This same rule does not apply to Boris Bikes, which apparently can pretty much be safely ridden at literally any level of intoxication – tourists can be found exploiting this phenomenon on a nightly basis. But really, cycling while alcoholically impaired is a great way to get killed.


7. Go hands-free

Unless you've mastered the unicycle, there is no reason for anyone to be cruising around with their arms by their sides while staring off into the far distance with a look of steely confidence. We get it chum, you’ve got faith in your sense of balance and you have the ability to pull on the brakes using telekinesis, but you’re still making everybody nervous. Please resume the customary hands-on-the-handlebars position when on main roads, thank you.   


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8. Move house

Imagine the feeling of having to be cleared out of your flat and moved into your new one by 8am tomorrow morning. But both your best mates’ cars have broken down and the tubes, buses, trams, DLR, Overground, and rail replacement services are all on strike. You can’t afford to hire a removal team and you refuse to get into an Uber because you think their business model is immoral. And now the only way to transport your crap is to stuff it into four rucksacks and string them together with a bungee cord to form a monstrous junkyard tortoise shell that you then balance on your back and cycle half-way across London.  


9. Be 
overly aggressive

Some cyclists think that hand signalling means savagely flipping off a mum who’s dropping off her kids on the school run. There is no need for loutishness. A moment’s stern eye contact is usually enough for a driver to back down and recognise that they were in the wrong for nearly smashing you to a pulp by making a sudden sharp turn without indicating. But it’s important to remember that motorists don’t know how scary it is on a bike sometimes, because they are wearing a car. Be brave out there, but be kind too.


10. Engage in WhatsApp banter on your phone

Get off your phone, mate! The dank memes can wait. 

What kind of cyclist are you? Check out our spotter's guide to London's cyclists

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