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blog: Cycling in London - Save the planet, your wallet and your stress levels?

Author: Ben Sankey

In the aid of this week being Bike Week, I thought it would be fitting to take you along on my journey from Kentish Town to the office in Bermondsey. According to Strava, I have now completed this journey at least 32 times and so my knowledge of the route is fairly comprehensive.

In line with the three main goals of Bike Week I can certainly say I helped to:

  • Save the planet
  • Save money
  • Save stress levels (for the most part).

For each section of the cycle, I will have the cycle infrastructure and average speed in brackets to help give context for how varied my speed can be and how efficiently I can travel in places of high cycle infrastructure provision.

Kentish Town High Street 75% Major Road, 25% Minor Roads

Kentish Town High Street is a cruel start to the journey into work with the only upside being the steady decline in gradient along the high street. For a borough where over half the residents do not have access to a car, this section of road rarely feels that way. One thing that does help in the morning cycle rush hour is the sheer volume of cyclists who will map out a path for you to follow. At the moment most cycling maps divert you off the high street at all costs which does make sense when one of UPS London's distribution centres Is placed here.


A gap in the network?

As the map below illustrates, many cyclists are forced to use this route as there are very few safe/direct cycling routes in the Kentish town area to access central London. A great example of how this could be improved is by replicating Cycleway 23 along Lee Bridge Road through Leyton. This is a similar area in terms of how constrained it is for space and the amount of shops/footfall the road contains. The approach here includes a stepped cycle lane on each side which would require a reallocation of road space from pedestrians and cars. Socially/politically this may be hard to achieve but with the high volumes of cyclists that currently cycle down the high street, I think people would prefer cyclists to have their own space instead of performing dangerous overtakes.


Cycleway 6 to Kings Cross – (75% segregated and 10% painted cycle lanes, 15% major roads – 21.5 kph)

Once through the hectic high street, I am rewarded with a straightforward section to Kings Cross along Cycleway 6. This is a nice part of the journey but as you can see below it is sometimes affected by road works. Most of the time temporary measures are put in place for cyclists but this does not fully prevent cars from swinging out from the left into you. Overall this is a good section of my journey and is heavily used by cyclists.


Cycleway 6 from Kings Cross to Farringdon (38% marked cycle lanes, 44% major roads and 18% minor roads – 17.9 kph)

From Kings Cross to Farringdon, I have to follow a range of low-traffic streets before returning to the segregated section of Cycleway 6. Euston Road is a major arterial road that runs West to East through London causing a major form of severance for many Londoners. Cycleway 6 combats this by having a cycle crossing over Euston Road which only allows cyclists to continue their journey onto Judd Street. This, like many cycling interventions, only popped up during the COVID-19 pandemic and is heavily used by cyclists in the mornings. I do choose to turn off Cycleway 6 onto Farringdon Road early in preference for a more direct route and a bus lane that makes me feel safe enough to ride on Farringdon Road before Cycleway 6 continues.

Cycleway 6 from Farringdon to the City of London (75% segregated cycle path, 25% major roads – 18.2 kph)

Again, I am then rewarded for cycling through a slightly disjointed part of London’s Cycle Network with a kilometer stretch of segregated cycle paths which is the busiest section of the route. During this part of the route, the only thing that slows you down is the high volume of cycling traffic found in this area. This route was a highlight of the journey for the last 5 months but recently there have been major gas works along the main road which means motor vehicles and cyclists merge in places they should not.


London Cycle Network 38 (37% marked cycle lanes, 63% major roads – 16.1 kph)

I then turn off Cycleway 6 again onto a more direct route to London Bridge. This area especially around Cannon Street can have a high concentration of LGVs (large goods vehicle)/HGVs (heavy goods vehicle) and there is also a heavy pedestrian presence here. As space is fairly constrained in the City of London, a marked cycle lane might be the only possible option for this area to help allocate more road space to cyclists. Although I feel more constrained via this route, most motor vehicles will give you enough space to squeeze through and I often feel this is sometimes better than risking overtaking cyclists on the alternative Cycleway 6. A highlight of this part of the route can be cycling past St. Paul's Cathedral, especially at night.


London Cycle Network 22 (17% marked and 15% separate cycle lanes, 33% major and 35% minor roads – 19.6 kph)

Once the chaotic streets of the city of London are dealt with, it’s onto London bridge where panoramic views of the city’s landmarks can be enjoyed. I also personally enjoy this part due to passing an abundance of cyclists on the other side of the road heading into the city. This is a common occurrence for this part of the route with cyclists now taking advantage of the new fully opened Cycleway 4 which connects cyclists from Tower Bridge to Greenwich.

From here it’s fairly stop/start but safe at low speeds with red lights and pedestrians a plenty. The final part of the journey brings me down Bermondsey Street and can present a challenge. Firstly, the street is full of restaurants, pubs, cafes and bakeries which need deliveries daily meaning the road is rarely clear in the morning. Furthermore, the street is bi-directional for cyclists but only one way for cars which can lead to some quite disgruntled drivers leaving you less than optimal space for a pass. There is certainly scope to add a stepped cycle lane onto Bermondsey Street but this may be difficult due to the parking needed for businesses along the street. Another option could consider pedestrianisation of the area due to the high footfall the street receives, but the lack of backstreet access for businesses may make this option unviable.


Cycling can be a varied experience depending on your confidence levels and your route to work. It is important to know how much you value feeling safe on the road vs how direct you want your route to be. I would recommend London Cycle Routes on YouTube if you need to look for a safe route to work to suit you, be it for leisure or commuting. For my situation cycling is the best option, the alternative is similar in terms of travel time, but the comfort and punctuality of the northern line rarely convince me to not cycle in.

For more information or advice about cycling in London, contact Ben Sankey at


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