London prepares for six days of tube strikes… and a summer cycling boost

Trouble on the tube should see more Londoners getting on their bikes

by Tony Farrelly   May 5, 2011  

London cyclist approaching junction.jpg

Cycling in London could be in line for a major seasonal boost with the news that London underground staff are to stage six one day strikes in support of two colleagues they say were unfairly dismissed by London Underground.

Strike action will be of varying lengths ranging from between 9 and 24 hours says the Rail, Maritime, & Transport Union whose members are taking the action. The strikes will take place over on the week commencing Monday 16th May and run through to Friday 20th May and then again in June from Monday 13th through to Friday 17th.

If previous tube strikes are anything to go by London should see a marked increase in the numbers of cyclists on its streets. During a series of rail strikes last autumn traffic along the two Barclays Cycle Superhighways which run in to the City of London from the south and east increased markedly as did usage of London's hire bike scheme.

Encouraging cycling has played a part in Transport for London's strategy to minimise disruption during tube strikes for the last couple of years - in 2009 TfL built on the series of Bike Tube rides organised the LCC during a series of strikes in the summer of 2009 and wheeled them out again last year - with it has to be said varying degrees of success. TfL also wrote to hundreds of businesses across London asking them to be flexible and make it easy for staff to cycle to work, and to allow staff to wear casual clothes on the day.

A TfL spokesperson confirmed to that all options as regards encouraging cycling during the tube strike are on the table again this time round but that planning for any extra provision for cycling is still at an early stage, while the London Cycling Campaign told us they too are considering what can be done to help maximise the numbers of cyclists on the street during the strike and to give information and encouragment to novice riders tempted to give it a go. The Mayor's office have as yet stayed silent on the subject although we can surely expect some comment on the irony of industrial unrest on the tube helping fuel the Mayor's own transport revolution.

What we can say fairly confidently is that it will be very busy around hire bike stations on strike days and if you are a regular London commuter already - you'd better prepare to meet some new friends. Lots of them.

To find out more about cycling during the tube strike and cycling in London in general visit the cycling section of the TfL website at and the London Cycling Campaign website at a shiny new version of the LCC site should be up and running in time for the strike too.

4 user comments

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I wonder whether TfL/Serco will now reverse their recent decision to stop restocking the docks around Waterloo station during peak hours? At the moment you see dozens of forlorn BB-ers wandering around looking for a free bike, or waiting for a user to dock one.

TfL/Serco apparently take the view that BBs were not envisaged as a commuter solution, and they apparently didn't anticipate demand from this quarter. Well, duh!

posted by Paul M [342 posts]
5th May 2011 - 15:36


I asked them about that before launch, my impression was that they knew they wouldn't be able to cope with the demand so didn't go there… as it were.

On a completely different note - my suggestion for giving cycling an extra boost in London during the tube strikes is to start the London Cycling Challenge a week earlier - it starts pretty much on the day that the last strike finishes.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
5th May 2011 - 16:11


If the weather is good it could be mayhem - there is already a tendency for swarms of new cyclists to appear as soon as the sun comes out, and the tube strike will be an extra incentive. I'll be trying to travel in and out at non-peak times to avoid the additional traffic...

posted by step-hent [714 posts]
5th May 2011 - 16:40


A new use for a collective noun! Cyclists don't flock, gaggle or herd, they swarm.

Bring it on!

posted by Paul M [342 posts]
6th May 2011 - 10:09