What are London’s best and worst cycle routes?

London's best and worst cycling conditions: The Mall on a Sunday and The Strand anytime

London’s best and worst cycling conditions: The Mall on a Sunday and The Strand anytime

WORST: The Strand
BEST: cycleways in the Royal Parks, beside the Thames and on the Mall etc when closed to motor vehicles. Some canal towpaths (eg in the Lea Valley) also have good cycling conditions and so does the Queen Elizabeth 2012 Olympic Park.
CONCLUSION: cycle paths and tracks should be designed by landscape architects for A-to-B convenience AND for the pleasure of being on a beautiful, quiet, safe, enjoyable greenway
COMMENTS on other very bad and very good cycle routes in London most welcome

I have been cycling in London since 1973 but find the questions difficult. Echoing C. E. M. Joad I feel it necessary to start with the declaration that: “It all depends what you mean by… “best”‘. For some, the safest route is the best route. For some, the most direct route from an origin to a destination is the best. For others, the most scenically enjoyable route is best. To satisfy each of the criteria my answer is that the London’s best cycle route, if only on a Sunday when motor vehicles are excluded, is The Mall. What’s more, it is the result of several landscape planning and design decisions:

  • Henry VIII acquired the land for use as a deer park. The line of the future Mall was probably used by horse riders
  • Charles II commissioned a Baroque design for St James’s Park which included the avenue which became The Mall. Originally, it was used for the game of Pall-mall (croquet).
  • Sir Aston Webb converted the Mall, which had become a vehicular route, into a grand ceremonial route leading to the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace (1913)

So what is London’s worst cycle route? I’ll vote for the Strand.

Tom's vote for the worst cycle conditions in London goes to The Strand. To call them appalling would be to understate the horror.

Tom’s vote for the worst cycle conditions in London goes to The Strand. To call them appalling would be to understate the horror.

The Strand is usually clogged with buses and taxis pumping diesel fumes into the lungs of stationary cyclists. They are stationary because the 4-lane road has no space allocated to cyclists.

Many cyclists preferring push their bikes along the pavement to dancing with death on the public highway.

Many cyclists preferring push their bikes along the pavement to dancing with death on the public highway.

Tom Turner

Posted in cycleways

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