London’s Cycle Paths

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is big on cycling, so much so that he instigated the Boris Bike’s Scheme that is in operation right across the city. Anyone in the city can now hop on a bike, for a small fee, cycle to their chosen destination and deposit their hired bike in any of the cycle hire stands that are located city wide. But other than getting on your Boris Bike and taking to the roads, where else can you cycle? Although not widely noticeable as you travel around the city on the more usual forms of transport, there are a number of cycle paths that you can either take to on your own, or as part of a guided tour.

Photo by Andreas Kambanis
Photo by Andreas Kambanis

River Thames Cycle Paths

Cycling along the banks of the river you are a world away from the congestion of the city. The cycle paths here belong to the Thames Path National Trail, of which there are a total of nineteen within the UK. The Thames Trail runs the length of the river, from its humble source in the Cotswolds right down to the Thames Barrier situated in Greenwich. The trail changes from one side of the river to the other throughout its length and riders are required to cross some of the historic bridges that traverse the river in order to see the trail through to its end. The majority of the trail is free from road traffic, until you get to the stretch between Docklands and Greenwich when you will be riding on the road. Cyclists should be aware that part of the trail takes in the Thames Path which is a public footpath.

Other Waterside Routes

Aside from the National Trail there is also the Thames Cultural Cycling Tour to be enjoyed, on this tour you will be taking in a lot about the city’s long maritime history as you cycle along the river banks. This cycle way covers a 27km long route which will give you a good view of some of the city’s famous sites. Aside from the River Thames herself there are also numerous canals that you can ride along, cycling is permitted along many of the canals however for some a permit needs to be obtained, details of which canal routes are affected can be found on the Canal & River Trust web site. The Thames is also fed by two tributaries; the Lee Valley route gives you 42km of cycling that is traffic free. The other tributary, the River Wandle also offers traffic free cycling and takes you through what was once a heavily industrialised part of the city.

Essential Items for City Cycling

Cycle helmets are essential no matter which part of the city you choose to ride in, but even more so where the surface is rough and uneven such as alongside the canals. Be sure to wear reflective clothing and have working lights on your bike, a bell to warn a pedestrian of your approach is also a good idea.

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