Bike the strike! Let's get London to work on two wheels

** UPDATE, TUESDAY 4th Feb 18.00: Over 50 rides led by volunteers all across London will set off tomorrow morning. Thank you, London cycling community, you're amazing!  See here for the BikeTheStrike route map and find out if there's a ride near you. **

Unless there's nothing short of a diplomatic miracle, London's Underground network will come creaking to a halt from Tuesday evening for a 48 hour strike.

Whatever you think about the politics of the strike, there's no denying that the Underground carries more people every day than the rest of the UK rail network put together.  In a nutshell, that's an awful lot of people who still need to get to work on Wednesday and Thursday morning...

Most of you reading are probably already committed cyclists and know the joys of using a bicycle to get from A to B in the city and how easy, fast and stress-free it can be. 

But there's plenty of people in London who will be considering using a bike to get through the strike who might be feeling nervous, may be inexperienced at cycling with London traffic or simply may not know the way overground to their place of work.

So here at i b i k e l o n d o n we thought we'd combine the goodwill of the London cycling community with the magic of social media and put together BikeTheStrike!

The way it works is simple; if you're a cyclist and you'd be happy to guide another slightly apprehensive rider to work, add your details and draw your cycle route on to our #BikeTheStrike action map, which you can find here.  

List where you will depart from (local landmarks, tube stations, or pubs are good places to gather), at what time you'll leave, what your Twitter handle is so people can reach you, and which tube stations you will pass on your way to your destination.

To plot your route, click the "pin" and "line" tools which appear in the top left hand corner of the map (see below)  You should be able to draw your whole route as one line, which you can then choose to colour code or add text to under the "Bike The Strike Routes" layers.

Joining a BikeTheStrike ride:

On the other side of the cycling spectrum, if you're a rusty rider looking for someone to show you the way, or to give you a bit of gentle encouragement, check the map for routes near you, and tweet any ride leaders whose route suits your needs, et voila you've got your very own bike buddy to show you the way and take you gently across town and in to the office.

People leading rides are in no way liable for you during your cycle journey, and there's no assumption of legal responsibility here (phew, that's the nasty legal bit out of the way) but if you need some "blitz spirit" to help you get to work during the strike, the London cycling community is here for you.

So, what are you all waiting for?  Get mapping and tweeting your route right now, and who knows what new two-wheeled friends you might meet along the way? #BikeTheStrike!

Top tips for rusty riders:
  • Give your bike a quick once over before you leave;
  • Pump up your tyres, give your chain a spin, squeeze your brakes
  • Pack your waterproofs and a spare set of clothes. (Cycling in the rain is surprisingly okay. Sitting at your desk all day in wet knickers is not.)
  • Don't forget your lights - not only a legal requirement but damn useful too as it will be dark when you leave work in the evening.
  • Keep an eye on social media, note the contact details of your BikeTheStrike ride leader, tell someone where you are going.
  • You'll need a lock to secure your bike at your destinaton (preferably two)
  • Don't forget to say thank you!

Top tips for BikeTheStrike ride champions:
  • Try to map your route accurately, and mention the stations you will pass; some riders may wish to "get off" along your route.
  • Try to set an easy pace as some of the riders may not be as used to hurtling through central London streets as you are.
  • Consider setting off earlier than usual when roads are quieter, and to allow yourself more time.
  • If you say you're going to do a ride, do it!
Individually, each ride may only have one or two participants, but across town that could really add up to a lot of people who've managed to avoid the crush of the buses or having to take leave because they can't get in to work.  Together, let's get London to work on two wheels!

Check out the BikeTheStrike route map, and add your cycle journey today.

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Poppy @ Persistence Over Perfection said...

What a brilliant idea! If I still lived in London I'd be getting involved, I hope this helps get some extra people on their bikes :)

mintea said...

Great Idea, I might add my morning route from Mortlake to Camden Town, if I have enough time today.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to add a route from Ladywell and Lewishan to London Bridge and the city...however, possibly due to my lack of googlemap fu, I can't seem to manage it... any help available?

ibikelondon said...

HI there Ladywell Cyclists - yes, the new Google maps does seem to be especially tricky this morning!

If you want to email me your route at ibikelondon [AT] live [dot] co [dot] uk I'd be happy to add it for you!

Silver Fox said...

Very good idea, well done. My cycle commute route unfortunately is irrelevant to tube lines (Hampton to Heathrow) so I don't think I can help, but it would be very interesting to know how many people end up being helped.

ibikelondon said...

Hi Hamish, thanks for your message and encouragement. Already there are a handful of routes plotted which hopefully will be useful to people. I don't see any of the rides being huge, but if one or two people tag along on each ride and are able to get to work then accumulatively hopefully we'll make a big different together :)

Nico said...

Hi Mark, I cycle Gladstone Park to Kings Cross, but I am not sure how to add my route to the map. Is there a how-to somewhere?

ibikelondon said...

Thanks for your message Nico, I've just updated the blog at @12.50 with some basic instructions on pinning and mapping. Hope these help!

Nico said...

I can't exactly guarantee I will lead a ride (I've had no training apart from surviving for 4 years on London roads!), but I'll try to leave Gladstone Park around 8-8:15 near the Pleasure Garden. My tweet is @NicoVel0.

Nico said...

Ah, it seems my route was deleted. I am still cycling from Gladstone Park to Kings Cross, departure around 9 am at the Pleasure Garden. Tweet @NicoVel0

ibikelondon said...

Hi Nico, don't worry, you're route is still there. Happy riding!

Mitsky said...

Great idea.
Would be nice if some of the riders had head cams and upload videos to show the community spirit.

Rob said...

I volunteered to do a ride today, however nobody took me up on my offer. It made me a little disappointed but after my journey to and from work I'm actually glad I got no responses.

The tube strike did make Londoners take to the road, but not on their bicycles. People used their cars and took taxis instead. The traffic was abysmal. I estimate 3 or 4 times the usual number of vehicles were on the streets, with perhaps just a 25% uptick in cyclist numbers (compared to the last few weeks). From Bank Junction along the Embankment to Lambeth Bridge there was gridlock: one giant traffic jam.

In many places it was difficult, if not impossible, to make progress safely. There was often not enough space to filter and had I been guiding an inexperienced cyclist they would not want to wobble between a bus and HGV to get to the front of a queue of traffic. Even as an experienced rider commuting 20 miles a day at least 3 times a week I found it difficult and it was easily the worst commute I've ever had.

Today was not a good advertisement for cycling in London. If I had not commuted by bike beforehand I would never ever do it again. If any lessons can be learned then this strike shows exactly what every day would be like if private vehicles continue to be prioritised over walking, cycling and public transport. And I will do my bit to stop that from happening!

ibikelondon said...

Hi Rob, thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment.

Thank you, also, for volunteering your time and plotting your route to work. I'm sorry that on this occasion no one joined you for your ride to work. It certainly sounds as though it was an unpleasent one!

Every ride to work is different, and there's rough with the smooth with each journey in contested space like central London I suppose. What I found interesting this morning was how the roads on the outskirts of the city (on my ride) were awful as they were so packed with stationary cars, but the centre wasn't too bad and moving quite well and quite quiet. Conversely, the reverse was true for me this evening. I found both manageable by taking it much slower than I used to, although it does mean I didn't turn up at work nearly as sweaty as usual this morning :)

Never fear, no one's mapping efforts will have been in vain as we will be writing a special post looking at the different routes people have taken and what the accumulated data can show us.

All the best, and safe riding tomorrow! Mark

Rob said...

Hi Mark - thanks for the reply. Your experience matched mine by the sounds of things, although maybe I experienced worse traffic!

I didn't intend to be too negative but I thought today was A Bad Day (TM) for cycling in London. Wouldn't it have been great if all the infrastructure we've been campaigning for had been built? Imagine what first time cyclists would have thought of a segregated path along the Embankment where they could cycle away from the queueing traffic and not have to squeeze between buses and HGVs. Or a network of quietways allowing them to avoid the worst of what London's rush hour could throw at them. That is what will get people onto their bikes, not a disagreement between Bob Crow and BoJo.

Safe riding and keep up the good work.

Aaron said...

Had a nice easy ride in from Walthamstow this morning with someone who took over 2 hours to get to Angel yesterday. Very satisfying and good to know someone else avoided the crush.

parrabuddy said...

Had hoped to see Comments on the " STRIKE breaking Guided Rides

Checkout & "LIKE "

3rd attempt

@ChooseGravy said...

Hi there,

I can't seem to add my route to the map either. Do I need to upgrade to Google's Maps Engine Pro or something?

I'm going from Waterlow Park to Westbourne Park by the way. I'll be taking in the delights of Gospel Oak, St. John's Wood and Maida Vale too.

Great idea by the way.



Anonymous said...

Is this still going for this week's action?

ibikelondon said...

Hi Anonymous, sorry no, these rides were only for the February strike. We didn't have enough time to set up a similar project this time around, sorry!

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London Accountants Lady said...

Thanks for the 'top tips for rusty riders' I always worry about all those amateur cyclists on the streets I have to say!