Look at a map of public transport routes in London and you’ll see a dense web of lines, with a few pockets of ground which can easily be filled on foot or on bike. When it comes to getting around, London is one of the best-served cities on earth.
Once the Victorians had achieved the impressive feat of completing the world’s first network of national rail lines, they boldly began work on a subterranean version which was to span the length and breadth of the capital, and beyond, into the commuter towns of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex. The first route – now then Hammersmith & City line – was built in 1863, the network now comprises 250 miles of track, serving 270 stations.
The London Underground spreads out from the centre, with the greatest degree of connectivity concentrated on the centre, so for anyone staying in zones 1-3, they can pretty much get around all the tourist hotspots by tube alone. A one-time payment of five pounds is required for an Oyster card, which needs regular top-ups, usually working out to less than two pounds per journey, depending on which zones you travel to.
It’s one of the many PR masterstrokes pulled off by London’s incumbent mayor that the notion of his titular modes of civic transport was, in fact, conceived on the watch of his predecessor, Ken Livingstone. Nevertheless, the scheme, sponsored by Barclays, has been deemed a huge success, with 570 stations renting out more than 8,000 bikes. Users registering with TFL pay just three pounds for a key, which unlocks a bike from the docking station for varying levels of access. Casual users, including tourists, can simply swipe their credit card at the nearest station. During the 2012 Olympics, one record-breaking 24 hour period saw more than 47,000 rentals. They’re not for everyone, but it’s worth noting that people on Boris Bikes are three times less likely to be involved in an accident than other cyclists (often considered the bane of motorists and pedestrians alike); this fact is indicative of the level of regard in which the scheme is held.
Ironically enough, the high uptake of public transport in London helps car drivers fare better in the traffic jam stakes when compared to other major cities like Paris or New York. Provided you avoid rush hour, driving around London can be a perfectly smooth, pleasant experience, though affordable parking can be hard to come by. Try here for free parking and visit Enterprise for car hire in the capital.
The red bus has been in operation for more than a century and remains a London icon, recognized throughout the world. Between the buses and the Tube, there isn’t a major tourist attraction you can’t get to on public transport. Fares are cheap and can be deducted from Oyster cards, although many airport buses require a premium fare owing to their outlying locations in Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick. Check the TFL bus site for more details including a cool map route tool.
Tramlink runs a three-route system in Croydon, South London, with a possible extension to Crystal Palace announced last year. There is also a proposed Cross River Tram to run from King’s Cross to Brixton, although this project remains on ice until public funding is freed from the current austerity measures. Clearly, taking the tram is not going to be a viable method of travelling around the city, but for tourists in South London looking for something a little different, it’s ideal.
Undoubtedly part of London’s showing-off session during the Olympics, the new Emirates Air Line if a cable car link running across the Thames from the Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula. Built at a cost of £60 million, the cable car opened on 28 June 2012.
Just as iconic as the red double-decker, the motorised Hackney Carriage has been serving Londoners since 1901, with some form of horse-drawn equivalent dating back to the 17th Century. They’re not cheap if you’re travelling long distances, but no trip to London would be complete without a ride in one, and a bit of banter – whether you asked for it or not – from the driver.
Those that know me know of my love of retro Style bicycles and I have just discovered a Cambridge company who are making the most beautiful bespoke bicycles..ahhh I am in love!
“Our bicycles are hand-built exclusively for us in Belgium by a bicycle-building family who have been making high quality frames and bicycles by hand since 1946. Combining gorgeous vintage detailing with highest quality components, an elegant Sit Up and BEG style traditionally brazed and lugged upright frame with a Brooks leather saddle, and a whole host of sophisticated features, the only bump in your ride will be choosing whether to go for delicious Persephone Pink, Flirty 30s Green or Toad.
Heads will turn, hearts will flutter and you’ll be King (or Queen!) of the road.”
Well I can’t disagree the bicycle below is absolutely beautiful.
This morning I woke up full of hope for the year ahead and even though it was the first day of work after the long holiday I tried to be positive. Isn’t it funny how a small thing like your train being delayed can really mess your mood up for the rest of the day. I was determined that this year I would be on time for work so I left 10 minutes earlier giving myself time to go and buy my travel card. I didn’t even let the fact that my travel card had gone up by 10 pounds bother me. Got to the station at 8.12 only to hear ” We are sorry the 8.12 to Liverpool street has been delayed by 8 minutes. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused”. Okay some mental arithmetic from myself and I calculated I could still get to Liverpool Street by 8.40 which gave me enough time for my 10 minute bus ride to work from Finsbury Square. ” Two minutes later…. “We are sorry the 8.12 is delayed by 18 minutes”. ” We are sorry the 8.15 is delayed by 24 minutes”. “We are sorry the 8.18 will not run today”. “F***! the Platform was getting busier and I knew from experience that by the time the train would arrive I would have problems getting on. So cutting my losses I ran to go and catch the bus to the nearest Central line station. Getting there at 8.30 I calculated I would probably get to work 10 minutes late. On the bus I could feel my hackles going up. “Pay 150 quid a month for what! shoddy service, cramped conditions, bloody tory government, rip off BRITAIN!”. Got on the Central line…started to relax a bit. Announcent: “We are being held at a red light we should get going in a few minutes”. “WHAT!” not again….I started to simmer inside, even the sight of a rather good looking guy opposite couldn’t wipe the scowl off my face and the journey seem to take forever as the train continually stopped at red lights and then stopped to sort out a passenger alarm at St Pauls, getting more and more ridiculously full. By the time I got to Liverpool Street I had mentally decided I hated London and the next chance I would get I would emigrate to Switzerland where the transport system is fantastic. I ended up getting to work at 9.20am, stroppy faced and it took me till lunch to settle down. So thank you National Express East Anglia for ruining my working start to 2011! Well a colleague sent me a video that made me realise as bad as London transport is it could be a hell of a lot worse. Watch below for yourselves.