I’ve been looking at St. Albans this morning after a few people mentioned! Looks real nice!
I think between commute town, my cycling needs and safety/nice neighborhood I’m gonna weigh my girlfriend’s needs more. I can always hop on a train or add 10-15 miles to my rides to get where I need to be.
I’ve been looking at St. Albans this morning after a few people mentioned! Looks real nice!
Haha yep. I’ve even built bikes in the US with “reverse” brakes. I don’t think I’d be buying a bike in the UK though. If anything I need to get rid of all but one
Funny story. I let my friend ride my campy steel bike when I brought it to the States for a cycling trip. Forgot that there was a difference. He almost went over the bars.
My bad on that. I forgot there was a difference.
St Albans is lovely, though there’s a real price premium to be in either the conservation area or within an easy walk of the station.
Some very nice riding just to the north; you can go pretty much due west through Herts over to the Beds/Oxon border (about 30-40km) and you’ve got some proper climbs (Whiteleaf, Kop Hill, Bledlow Ridge, taking in Ivinghoe Beacon and Bison Hill on the way if you really want to get some VAM) or go north east out through Codicote and up into the Chilterns.
Going south takes a bit more planning to avoid main roads but Windsor Park is in striking distance, as is Henley, if you don’t mind/want 100km + rides. And both make a great ‘ride out, stop for lunch, ride back’ day out.
Europe does their brakes correctly just like they drive on the right side of the road too.
If your girlfriend will be working near Kings Cross, I’d stick to North London/Hertfordshire. I did the commute to Chiswick on a daily basis pre-Covid, and Kings Cross to Chiswick is at least an hour. Add walking time as my office was right next to the underground station in Chiswick.
Lots of good cycling in Hertfordshire, no mountains, but enough hills so that when you get back from a ride you’ll have done a surprising amount of climbing. St. Albans/Tring/Berkhampstead all good options. Potters Bar a bit closer to London. Welwyn Garden City good for commuting and 5 mins to great outdoors but doesn’t have the nightlife of St.Albans.
I ride a lot in East Herts, excellent quiet roads and (for UK) lots of gravel riding to be done. Also find drivers in Herts a lot friendlier than the drivers west of London.
West and South West London are pleasant enough but when I lived and worked there the traffic was always pretty hellish. I’d not go back there in a hurry!
For Kings Cross I’d be looking north of London as a few have suggested. Hertfordshire is pretty nice and it’s also nicer but more rural as you move further west to Buckinghamshire. We moved from the top end of Surrey (Bagshot) up top Oxfordshire. The commute is a little longer but being bang in the middle of The Chilterns makes it worthwhile. There’s plenty of hiking, running, road riding and off-road riding all within minutes of the house.
Just UK, due to riding on the left. If I fly into Spain for a cycling holiday , it’s often as cheap to hire a bike when there, taking my pedals with me. Swapping between bikes with brakes on different sides isn’t a biggie unless you’re the sort who brakes late and hard.
Happiness has been shown to decrease in direct proportion to the length of a person’s commute, so I would live in the city as close to work as possible. Especially to take advantage of everything the city has to offer as a visitor. The cycling scene in London is incredible. It takes about 45 mins from the centre to get to good countryside (East to Essex, South to Kent, west to Surrey, North to Herts, etc).
I’d still advise to not make your girlfriend have a long daily commute on a packed train, just so you can live somewhere good for cycling, when you’re not even there half of the time…
Lived in London for 3 years - I do most of my workouts outdoors and lived in West Kensington during that time.
Definitely stay within SW - S
Brixton, Stockwell, Claphan, Battersea,
How I see it - You want to be relatively close to both Richmond Park and Crystal Palace/Dulwich - whilst not making it a chore to go into town or do some urban laps around Regents to mix it up.
- Richmond Park is great for fast weekday rides or a meet-up point for long rides to Windsor or Surrey
- Dulwich is a meet-up point for rides going South to Kent, some very very nice routes.
Plus lots of interesting gigs, restraunts, night life down South, If you’re in brixton/stockwell - you’re on the Victoria line so you’re pretty set.
Give me a PM if you need any routes - I’ve got some pretty dialled routes in London.
I also recommend you join Dirty WKND once you’re down, friendly bunch of young cyclist, very active forum and a great route database for all directions of London
Its a great city!
While I agree with this from enjoying those areas personally…I don’t think that OP would see those areas as being the outdoors suburban type
True - It depends how much OP wants to commute I suppose, I rather take a train to the wilderness twice a week than a tube into work 5 times a week - but in that case I do really really enjoy putney but it isn’t good for transport.
I think the right balance is to be in a borough where you are half way between urban and suburban. Looking like zone 2-3 areas.
This makes it so your partner doesn’t have to slog the commute to Kings Cross too far (doing that every day is really not fun especially on the tube) and you have a quick-ish access to areas where you can get your cycle on.
Make sure you get a chance to get up to the Peak District on a weekend. Gods own country
The irony of London is that sometimes it can be quicker to get door to door if you live further out.
I live currently (literally) 5 minutes walk from a mainline station, which goes directly into Euston in 25 minutes (fast train). If I worked within 10 minutes walk of that station, I could be seated at my office desk not much more than 45 minutes after shutting my front door, having picked up a coffee en route, despite living 25 miles from the very centre.
A former riding buddy lives much more centrally, and needs to take 2 tubes. It takes him 45-50 minutes door to door. And he pays far more in rent, for a much smaller place, than I do on a mortgage.
This is just anecdata, but it shows the importance of a) precise location and b) careful thinking about commutes.
I live in Surbiton, quick train to central London and a ~16 mile cycle into the city. It is quite suburban and you don’t feel part of London but it’s very practical (but not for Kings X). Many large cycle clubs here but in reality, I don’t have the motivation to cycle in the Surrey hills often. Hope to leave the area this year.
As others have said, look at the transport options, you can live very central but be far from many places via public transport.
To throw in a different option, from my cycling perspective, I’d like to live closer to Herne Hill velodrome.
That area is really really lovely. Lots of up and coming shops and very livable.
I lived in King’s Cross from 2007 until 2018, then a little bit further out in Islington for a further year before moving out of London to Bath.
Living in London tends to come down to what commute you are prepared to put up with. Even with a good transport system it can take a long time to get anywhere, and the conditions on buses and on the tube during busy periods can be pretty horrible.
The most reliable way to get around London (in terms of journey times being consistent) is actually by bike, but whether this is realistic as a commuting option will depend on what facilities the office has. I worked for Deloitte until 2014 and they had fantastic facilities - great secure bike parking, showers and changing facilities, plus a culture that promoted active travel. I then changed jobs to work for a big American private healthcare group, which was so much worse. No facilities of any sort (so no showers, changing facilities, or secure bike parking), plus a bit of a negative culture (they didn’t particularly like me storing my little folding Brompton under my desk).
There are so many lovely areas to ride a bike near London - most notably the Chilterns to the north west, the Surrey hills to the south, and the Kent hills to the south east. The problem is that London is so big with so much urban sprawl that if you want quick easy access to any of those it means you will be living a long way from King’s Cross, meaning a big commute.
Living in King’s Cross meant that I was opting for a super short commute (so saving a lot of time, money and stress during the week), having the bonus of being near all the theatres, museums, shops and attractions, but then having to cross London to get out of it on the weekends. To ride out of London from King’s Cross, for example, could easily be well over an hour of busy urban roads before getting anywhere nice. I would regularly get a train out from Central London with the bike (e.g. from Marylebone out into the Chilterns, or from Victoria out to the Surrey Hills) to avoid having to ride across London.
One thing to note is that there is quite a strong Central London cycling community. Every morning you will find hundreds of riders doing early morning laps of Regent’s Park (closed to motorised traffic before 7am).
My general advice would be that it is worth taking a ‘try before you buy’ approach to London. All the different areas have a different feel. Go for somewhere that works well from a commuting perspective first, but opt for a short lease. That will allow you to experience one area while getting learning how other areas might work for you. You can then try another area for a short while. Do that a few times and you’ll probably find an area that is the best compromise for you both.