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Taking bikes on the London Overground

It’s a bit ironic that the one thing Kansas City does better than London in regards to public transportation is the integration of bikes and transit. Buses have bike racks, and the KC Streetcar has designated bike space.

Photo by @angraor on instagram. Used with permission.

Granted, it took KC’s streetcar five months to hit one million riders, which is what TfL hits halfway through morning rush hour. Sheer people numbers and old infrastructure make it difficult to adapt a 150-year-old system to include admittedly cumbersome bicycles, but TfL is making an effort. You can even download a map of where you can take a bicycle on the tube.

So when the husband and I found ourselves triple-booked for a Saturday in September, in all corners of London, we decided to take our bikes on the London Overground.

It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

We started the Overground part of the journey at Wandsworth Road, headed east. Which means we had to haul our bikes up and over the tracks. No lifts to be seen. Which made me wish either Gigi or I had had the foresight to lose about 10 pounds…

oyster card tap in at wandsworth road overground with bikes

bikes on the london overground

bikes on the london overground

bikes on the london overground

bikes on the london overground

waiting at wandsworth road overground station with a bike

Made it!

Once accomplished, we boarded the trains – again needing to lift our bikes up the step to “mind the gap” to get on the carriage – and hunkered in, trying not to be in anyone’s way. Except for taking photos, duh.

bikes on the london overground

ellen with a bike on the london overground


The train cars/carriages have open space for bikes, wheelchairs and strollers, so that actually works out okay. But there’s no good way to sit, so we stood/leaned with our bikes. And the bikes wanted to roll every time the train started and stopped, so that took a bit of finagling and adjustment.

bikes on the london overground

Hopped off at Peckham Rye, carried our bikes up and down more stairs and out of the station, which was pretty busy. Apparently there was a ticket turn style designated for easy-rolling of bikes that we didn’t see (plus it was so busy that getting to it would have caused more problems) so we rolled out through the handicapped turn style. Which worked fine.

Our next trip with our bikes on the Overground was much longer, which meant more standing. Again, this isn’t necessarily a problem, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable after our 45-min+ trip from southeast London to north London. And at the end of it all we still had more stairs to climb to exit the station.

So. Bikes on the London Overground. You can totally do it. Just plan ahead and maybe do a few upper-body workouts before your trip.

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