Saturday, July 19, 2008

London Bike Ride and Bike Routes

Quick jump:
Commuting bike rides

What’s the best bike ride in London? Most of us perceive the limitation of bike routes as being restricted by how far we can cycle from our home base in London.

Actually, I am always impressed by hearing other cyclist’s distances. When people tell me they commute a 60 mile bike ride to London, I am amazed; it sounds such a big number, twice a day!

But that’s at one end of the fitness scale. For us more average Joes, there’s an instant decision which can massively expand the choice of bike rides available in London: Take your bike on the train.

Commuting by bike in London during peak-times, really requires a folding-bike when using trains for an integrated journey. Most train operators have restrictions on the number of conventional (non-folding frame) bikes allowed on their trains at certain times. Check here for the relevant train operator’s cycle policy.

Commuting bike rides in London

What is more important to you? Your average cycle speed? High or low interaction with traffic? Scenic cycle routes? The greatest or least distance to cover? All these questions need to be considered to find the best bike ride to work, by those criteria.

Bike routes are a very personal thing: Even if Granny Gloria and Courier Kate are next-door neighbours, their respective bike rides to the same destination are going to be very different if Kate wants to carve through the traffic jams, and Gloria wants to stop and feed the ducks!

It’s worth reviewing the layout of the relevant cycle route network nearby. Because it's amazing what short cuts can be found from bike routes hidden from main roads, presented on bike route maps.

What are the best bike routes from x to y?

These resources will help find the best bike route you're looking for.

London cycle route maps – hard copy

Bike budi, people share their best commuting bike routes.

London cycle routes from

Sustrans - Shows maps overlaid with national cycle network paths and routes for your bike ride.

TfL Cycle route guide
- hard copy.

Camden - Great online map showing National cycle network and London cycle network bike routes. It also has pre-planned bike trips, e.g.:
Waterloo to Clapham Common,
Edgware to Streatham,
Camden to Bloomsbury,
Wood Green to Southwark,
Highgate to Parliament Square,
Farringdon Road to Leyton,
Walthamstow to London Bridge,
Tottenham to The City,
Tower Bridge to Poplar,
Camden to Victoria Park.

And many other routes (to which you can add), involving;
Bow, Peckham Rye, Aldgate, Crouch Hill, Tufnell Park, Brockley, Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, Whitechapel, Mill Hill East, St James Park.

Leisure bike rides

Where are good places to cycle in London? Making full use of free-time, evenings and weekends to get out and brush-off the stresses of life, I guess we’re looking for a bike ride far removed from the hustle of the London roads. Something of an antidote, a little bit of healthy escapism.

The nicest bike rides seem to head for water, whether it is the connectedness of the river Thames towpath, the tranquillity of city lakes (e.g. Hyde park, Richmond park), or the calmness of still water (Royal docks, canals), it appears to be an attractive destination for London bike rides. - London’s canal bike rides. Grand union canal (Watford, Slough, Brentford), and Regents Canal. Easy flat bike rides.

Cycle trip to the O2 (the dome) - a quality stretch of National Cycle Route Number 1, the best bike route ever? After Greenwich, it continues all the way to Dover. See: Sustrans.

Regents Park (NW1) Inner and Outer Circles – are great for near-traffic free cycle training.

Royal Docks – Near city airport, good road surfaces and not to traffic heavy.

North downs, Surrey - Great escape from the city, big hills and stunning views.

Favourite places to cycle in London

TfL canvassed some opinions about people's favourite bike ride. Here are the results:
1 Rivers - Thames Cycle Path /Canals (Regents canal)
2 Richmond Park
3 Hyde Park
4 Epping
5 Regents Park/London Zoo/Primrose Hill
6 Embankment
7 Hampstead Heath/Parliament Hill
8 Lea Valley
9 Greenwich/Blackheath
10 Hampton Court
10 Oxford Street area
10 The City
10 Waterloo
10 Hackney/Dalston/Leytonstone/Old Street
10 Greenwich Park
11 Home
12 Westminster/Victoria
13 Kensington/Chelsea
14 Richmond
15 Trent Park
16 Playstation ramps
17 Work
18 Windsor
19 Battersea Bridge/Park
20 Highgate
21 Alexandra Palace
22 Tate Modern
23 Croydon
24 Eastway (Hackney)
25 Bromley
26 Dulwich Park
27 Victoria Park
28 Walthamstow area
29 Priory Park
30 Southmere Park
31 Compton Fields
32 Gladstone Park
33 Middlesex University
34 Putney Heath
35 Kew Gardens
36 Wimbledon Common
37 Virginia Water
38 Gower Street/Euston
39 Dollis Valley Barnet
40 Trafalgar Square
41 Within CCZ
42 Tower Bridge
43 Herne Hill
44 Isle of Dogs
45 Sydenham Wells Park (Lewisham)
46 Harrow Lodge Park
Source: TfL - Bike Cycling Show Feedback

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