Travel advice and tips

Reducing the use of private cars is one of our biggest opportunities to reduce the health and environmental impacts of transport, including carbon and other harmful emissions associated with travel. NHS organisations should be exemplar in leading the population-wide shift from sedentary travel (where you sit or stand) to more active travel, such as walking and cycling, to improve health and promote sustainability.

Cycling and walking are great ways to travel. They are low cost, quick and sustainable ways to get around. They can also decrease congestion, air and noise pollution, and both are linked to health and economic benefits.

It doesn’t have to be for the whole of your journey - you can mix cycling and walking with using public transport. London offers an extensive networks of underground, overground and rail services, which are among the greenest way to travel.

Physical inactivity costs the NHS up to £1 billion each year, with additional indirect costs of £8.2 billion according to a report by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2014 on the economic benefits of walking and cycling. This report also highlights a link between adult obesity levels and travel behaviour as countries with the highest levels of cycling and walking generally have the lowest obesity rates.


Why travel actively?

  • Save money – cars can be expensive to purchase or lease, with added cost from vehicle tax, maintenance and insurance – grab yourself some trainers or a bike and save money!
  • Improve your health and happiness – walking regularly can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and active travel can help manage stress and weight. Exercise can protect against anxiety and depression, according to the NHS. Any exercise is beneficial but exercising outdoors can have additional benefits.
  • Help the planet and your community – switching from fossil fuelled vehicles to active travel will cut congestion, carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants that endanger public health and ecosystems.
  • Be social – walking is a great option for group journeys when you can walk and chat, while cyclists can find a great sense of community. The Urban Transport Group have also found crime rates decrease in areas where active travel is popular.
  • It’s quicker than you think – on average, you can walk a mile in around 15-20 minutes or cycle this in five. It could take longer to find your car keys!


All the information has been gathered through desktop research, was correct at the time, and does not provide an exhaustive list of services and providers, nor is it an endorsement of these services and providers.

Cycling in London… and beyond

Transport for London provides plenty of useful information on their website for those interested in cycling, whether you are looking for a fast route to your workplace, happy to do a detour for a more scenic and quiet ride or simply for leisure:

TfL Cycle map

TfL Leisure routes 

TfL Cycle highways

TfL journey planner

If you are planning to combine cycling and public transport, make sure you check which services allow bikes on trains, the type of bikes and when. If you are coming from outside London by train, check information on the train company’s website.

Let's ride provide plenty of information to support you, your friends and family to get cycling. From free cycling festivals to organised rides, this is more about leisure than work, but a great way to get back into a good habit of healthy and active travel.

Sustrans is a walking, wheeling and cycling charity. Its flagship project is the National Cycle Network, which has created 12,763 miles (20,540 kilometres) of signed cycle routes throughout the United Kingdom including 5,273 miles (8,486 km) of traffic-free paths. The rest of the network is on previously existing and mostly minor roads, in which motor traffic will be encountered. 

Cycle Buddies matches up people who want help to cycle more with people who want to help them. 

NHS staff are eligible to receive 50% off the Santander bike hire scheme, which means for £60 a year you can have unlimited access to Santander bikes.


Cycling apps

There are many cycling apps with free and paying features. Here is a small, none exhaustive list:


Map my ride

Cycle Streets


First Aid app for cyclists


Maintenance services in your borough

Most London boroughs organise Dr Bike events where residents can attend and have their bikes serviced free of charge. Small parts like brake pads are usually covered but large parts are not. Some borough training providers also offer a bespoke door to door service where you can arrange for a Dr Bike mechanic to visit your home to conduct the service. 

Check your local council website to find details of their cycle training provider and the bike maintenance services they provide or go on Cycle Confident for a list of upcoming sessions.

Halfords offer a free bike health check. Before any service or repair they will check your bike for free. This includes checking for wear, damage and ensuring your bike is safe to ride. This is a free service to help you get back on your bike. 

Bike for good offers a wide range of maintenance training, and welcomes all abilities to come and learn with them. Their maintenance classes are designed to equip you with more specific maintenance skills, suited for all abilities. 


Keeping your bike safe 

BikeRegister protects your bike from theft by joining the UK’s national, Police approved, bicycle marking and registration scheme, helping to get you reunited with your bike in the event of it being stolen.

Sold Secure can help you ensure you buy safe and approved safety equipment for your bike. They assess security products through manual attack testing. Manufacturers and suppliers can apply to have products approved by Sold Secure. 

Pedalsure is a company that provide NHS staff with discounted insurance cover for all types of bikes including mountain, road, electric, commuter and cargo bikes. 

While it is not a legal requirement to get bike insurance, it is a valuable investment, especially if you have a brand new, expensive bike. To compare cycle insurance providers, you can visit CycleInsurance.

Finally, you can find lots of useful safety tips for cyclists on Think, the UK government’s designated road safety campaign, including cars, bikes and pedestrians.


Walking in and around London

This TfL handbook provides advice in the design and creation of the public realm including streets, off road footpaths and public spaces. It's more for Planners but gives an idea of the processes and policies required to inform particular designs.

London Living Streets is a walking charity who have volunteers all over London campaigning to transform streets and public places that inspire people to walk.  The website contains a list of useful reports and contacts relating to walking and making streets safer.


Walking safely

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides information on the benefits and risks of walking in the UK and identifies the best ways of meeting the challenge of increasing walking without also increasing pedestrian casualties. 


Walking Apps

Map My Walk

Walkmeter Walking & Hiking GPS by Abvio

Fitbit App MobileTracker

Charity Miles

Virtual Walk – Walk the Distance


Information from boroughs on cycling, walking and more

All boroughs in North West London have dedicated information for active travel, especially around cycling. You can find out more about their cycle strategy, cycling and walking maps, cycle hire, cycle training and maintenance, bike marking and cycle security, cycle parking or even their cycle hubs.

Brent borough

Ealing borough

Hammersmith and Fulham borough

Harrow borough

Hillingdon borough cycling / walking

Hounslow borough

Westminster borough


Accessibility tools

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