Getting Arround London

Hey Everyone…

I’m pretty new to London, but I get totally screwed navigating, I can never find my way anywhere, and almost without fail it takes me 2 hours+ to find anywhere, regardless of where i’m going and where i am

I’d really like a sat-nav thing, but it’s too damned expencive at £400 odd for a TomTom… any ideas, or tactics the couriers amongst use for keeping tabs on things…

I have the Boroughs page of my A-Z on display in my TankBag which helps me get to the right district… but anything more fine grained than that and I have a real problem… it too me two hours to make 8 miles from the office to Gt. Portland Street yesterday… granted it was RushHour, and a few one way systems and no-right-turns caught me out…but it can’t be this difficult ?


When I came to the UK 20 years ago I used to come into London and just drive around on a Sunday, I would get completely lost but found out that the road signs are pretty good and after a few months I soon got the hang of it. Ride around on a Sunday, it’s a good day out and you get to see a lot of places you wouldnt on your everyday commute.


Thanks - I have been doing that, leaving for work 2 hours early, and allowing 3-4 hours for a ride home in the evening, intentionally not chcecking the map, and sometimes unintentionally… roadworkd or being caught in the wrong lane for a turn, or something

It is helping, and usually I can keep my bearings about roughly which direction I need to be going in to get to somewhere I know… even if that is as hap-hazard as heading for the N.Circular, or for my M11, or M1… just because I know those places, and if theres no signs for there, I usually head for Westminster or C. London… now I know there’s no congestion charge for bikes, of course!

Is a satnav/iPaq/TomTom any use, or can you suggest anything for keeping a better map (are there any? I think the scale on my A-Z is too fine for a quick glance downwards) … I’ll try anything!

i aint from round here, it just sorta comes with time though

as long as you know your way back to the river, and the general direction you needa head to, then you begin to recognise the places on your way

stick to the main roads at first, study the map so you know eg the A13 will take you east, the A11 will take you north east, the A10/A5/A41 will take you north, the A40 north west etc

north circ obviously runs round the top, and the south circ round the bottom

as you use these roads, youll get used to the places in between, and it will get to the stage that youll know which way you need to head, by seeing other place names

get to recognise the landmarks, use things like the gherkin, canary wharf etc as markers, always know where the river is and youll be fine

Havnt done the sat nav thing personally as I tend to know my way around now but if I am going to a new area I do a sort of shorthand directions on a postit note and stick it on my clocks. Tends to work well.

good tactic is stick to the main routes til you’re in the right area (A- roads are normally well signposted, and when you’re heading into london central/west end etc is usually marked too) then i jot down the road name of the street before the one i want to turn into (as well as the one you need of course) - it can be hard to see the road names and you’ve often committed yourself to going past it by the time you realise where it is.

central just takes time as there are so many one-ways.

a compass aint a bad idea as it goes (seriously)

I’ve lived here for errrm… 30 something years and still get lost 2 miles down the road… jeez i hate driving around London, too many one ways, no entries, and dead ends for a thicko like me… That’s without the blind cage drivers aiming to knock you off. So for any out of towners, good luck to you lol.

I was considering scribblnig notes rather than relying on internet maps, more tuned into places I recognise, or places i know at all…

Marking th name of the street before the one you need is a top idea, nice one - really surprised I didn’t think of that!

SatNav it isn’t then!

It is starting to come to me, and if i see a small compas, i might get one, an duct tape it to my yolk

Thanks fro the info on which road leads roughly where!

Atleast i’m not alone in getting totally lost, :smiley:

Riding around London on a Sunday is also the way I learned my way around town. What I also used to do is go as far east (say Docklands) as I could then ride in a “straight” line west, through town along the river to Chelsea. Also did the same from north to south.

…or you could try the old beer compass…hit the river then turn left or right, depending if you’re north or south

I’m one of those irritating people who absorb maps after looking for a couple of seconds. Best way to learn the basis of georgraphy is a Tube map, it’s basic and maybe 40% accurate, but to start with it’s near enough. Then work down the scales until you get where you want to be.

Get a cheap car sat nav from Halfords (or somewhere) stick it where yer map is in yer tank bag or mount it in a placcy bag on the handle bars. Not as posh looking as the real thing but will do the trick. One of mates back home did it for his girlfriend cos she can’t find her way anywhere.

Purplepower not Nick

Annoyingly, I’m with the TA back up north, and i can navigate my way solo accross any mountain range you care to mention with nothing but a piece of string and a cork…fecking cities, ehh… send me back to the hills!

I’m usually pretty handy with maps of tonws too, but i’m strugglnig to focus on where i’m going, and not being killed by cagies… and down here, bus drivers are the WORST they just dont give a **** - and i’d rather get hit by a freelander than a bus any day!

Just checked halfords, there’s a garmin for £100 - or something Navman for £140… that’s not had at all - that was my new helmet budget… the carmin i could suction to somewhere, and the navman would fit in my tank bag?

Anyone have experience with jerry-rigging one of those 12-volt adapter thingies to a bike ?

6 hours on 2AA batteries (The Garmin) is barely long enoguh to get me from westminster to my hotel (Earls court)

Do the riding around thing and start remembering the major road numbers. Remember landmarks and the roads around them - when you ride around these areas explore the smaller roads. You’ll soon start to nav via landmark to landmark (landmark is a a landmark to you e.g certain pub etc) - you’ll be a local in no time…

It was the garmin he used, reckons it can be suctioned to tank or even left hand mirror ( make wanna stick a bit of tape on for extra security) fit one of them cigarette lighter thingymebobbies to your bike and bobs your uncle.

Purplepower not Nick

Well the saying is “Men wont ask for directions and Women cant read maps” ( generally of course before you all jump down my throat)

I have to say i only use a map nowadays when i venture out of London to somewhere i dont know, and i would agree with Macp, get out there and ride round, soon you will know london like the back, i though i must admit, north, east and west are my familiar territories so i guess i need to get out and about in South London more… and you cant go wrong with landmarks, whichever ones you choose…

To add to the ‘getting lost on purpose as a way of learning’ theme - if you see a good amount of traffic (especially cabbies) darting off down a side road, follow them. It might be a useful route/rat run. Bear in mind that a good rat run for cars is not always a good one for bikes.

Study the front page of the A-Z (one showing pages per borough in boxes). Roughly learn where the boroughs are in relation to each other and check the tube map as well.

Then get out one Sunday and spend the day riding around. They also have these new things called road signs (sorry couldn’t resist) so taking Euston for an example you can head north up through Camden, Kentish Town, Archway to Highgate with the signs. Turn around an head back through Holloway to Islington then off to Shoreditch, Bethnal and east, you’ll soon learn it…

North of the river from west to east I feel I could do the knowledge like cabbies though I don’t go sarf of the river

i am sorry guys but i love getting lost in London its great!!

Smiled and myself went for a great midnight run one night all cos we got lost…

use multimap for outside london…

throw away the satnavs, and the maps and go and get LOST!!!

Oh you can still get lost with a satnav… It just helps you get home.

I’d be inclined to say a satnav will help, but it just won’t help you in the long run with getting your bearings as you rely on it too much.

I learned my way by using the underground for 10 years. When I popped up for fresh air on a bike, it was simply a case of filling the gaps and tieing the stations together… Major landmarks aren’t much use for directions since the capital is so flat. Although knowing where “monopoly board” places are kind of helps.

The only thing I have a problem with now is the last 100 metres or so - how to find a damn street. Satnav helps with that.

Alternatively, plan a route before you leave! Check the map, pick the direct route, ask for directions when you get down to the last 100m or so. PPPPPP.