3 great cycle cut-throughs in East London

We mentioned this in our route planning guide and here it is – the first of our posts on our favourite cut-throughs: East London.

I love a good cut through – that feeling that you are getting away from the traffic while at the same time saving a few minutes on a commute home or journey to see a friend is great.

A true cut-through is a small piece of genuinely useful cycling infrastructure that cuts time off your ride by making the route more direct. It is usually something that cars are restricted from but allows bikes to pass through. Think small gaps over pavement between two roads, alleyways, lights with a bike phase etc.  I have not included longer park routes or the canals and marshes as these are more likely to be a large part of a route, rather than a small convenience.

Corner cuts

Obviously the thing with cut-throughs is you have to know an area well to find them, so these are based on personal experience rather than covering the whole of East London – please add any you might have found to the end to help others who live outside of my field of exploring!

Haggerston Park/Columbia Road

A series of cut-throughs around here make it a real possibility to use London Fields and Broadway Market as part of a route into the City from the East, which is nice because these are lovely route highlights.

There is a convenient short cycle path at the end of Haggerston Park where it meets Hackney Road. At the end of this there is a set of traffic lights with a cycle phase which either allow you to easily join the fairly heavy traffic on Hackney Road going West, or you can cross the road to another series of cut-throughs if you want to avoid the main junctions and head a bit further South before going West.

Haggerston Park


There are loads of cut-throughs around Stratford and it doesn’t seem right not mention a couple of my personal favourites.

Through the Olympic park there are sections of roads you can cycle on that are restricted to cars. There is a very useful one that links High Road Leyton directly into Stratford and the Olympic park. This road is closed to cars but open to buses. Even though traffic on it is limited, there is still enough cycling infrastructure to make cyclists of any level feel comfortable, including a protected lane and a shared use path to avoid the road narrowing.

Stratford to Leyton

There are also several junctions that have small bike lanes over the curbs at traffic lights that allow cyclists to turn left on a red light. The junctions are generally quiet and the path is wide so it works well and it means that you can legitimately use the regular roads as cut throughs to save time.

Eastway is a great cut-though with some protected cycle lane at the Leyton end, but with a bit of road at the Hackney end that is closed to cars going East bound, making it nice and quiet and a good route both ways for cyclists. All of these cut-throughs together make a route, but individually they are useful in their own rights.

Stratford map

Pritchard Street/ CS1

This junction is now part of CS1 and as such has been significantly upgraded, but it has always been a useful cut-through between areas in East Islington/West Hackney and the city. The main benefit of this cut through is a link between the quiet roads north of Shoreditch to the busy roads approaching Old Street.

The provision of a large bicycle crossing across Old Street makes joining the road from the North East a lot easier. It also makes getting through the whole junction and into the quiet roads behind Liverpool Street Station a breeze.

There is also a small section of protected cycle lane for those heading East along Old Street to protect those cycling around the corner from the cars. It is one of those small touches that just makes cycling in a very busy junction a little bit more bearable.

CS1 cut-through

What are your favourite cut-throughs in East London? Please add them below to help others with their route planning.

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9 Responses to 3 great cycle cut-throughs in East London

  1. Simon Young 24/06/2016 at 10:39 am #

    If it wasn’t for the atrocious cobblestones on the eastern end of Columbia Road then it would be another

    • Mark 27/06/2016 at 10:01 am #

      My understanding is that Tower Hamlets will replace these soon with the funding for the Quietways.

      • gordon 31/10/2016 at 3:00 pm #

        They’ve been doing it for about 5 months, stopping cycle access and forcing cyclists along Hackney Road, or round Ion Sq. park (to get accosted by tykes now the dark nights are here).

        Short-term pain I guess, but jeez those road builders as slow as treacle.

  2. Al 24/06/2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Sanford Lane gets you straight onto the beginning of Stoke Newington Church St, bypassing the large one way system, very handy.

  3. Tom 28/06/2016 at 7:21 am #

    The towpaths also deserve a mention here, the fact that it’s possible to get from Wapping to Leyton, or Hackney Wick to Islington, etc without using a road. Of course it’s important to not cycle like a dick when using them and give way to/warn pedestrians you’re coming through.

    Maybe there should be a post about towpath ettiquette?

    • Paul 28/06/2016 at 11:50 am #

      Yes don’t use them, the towpaths between Islington and Hackney aren’t wide enough to safely incorporate pedestrians and cyclists during the rush hour and there is an adjacent route right next to it. As someone who regularly cycles the route from Hackney to Islington using the towpath is just anti-social at best I’m afraid.

      • INCREDIBLEBIKEPERSON 29/06/2016 at 10:49 pm #

        Less ‘don’t use them’ I think, more ‘choose your time wisely’. It’s a terrible commuter route, especially early evening, as it’s full of runners and walkers. Weekends too, there are just too many people on foot to justify bombing down on your bike – even a light bimble is ultimately disrespectful to walkers. Later at night, or in the morning/afternoon offpeak times, it’s just about OK (Obviously as long as you’re going a few degrees less than 10mph)

  4. INCREDIBLEBIKEPERSON 29/06/2016 at 10:46 pm #


    The best ones are where you kind of forget what they do and how fundamental they are to traversing the borough without getting a faceful of bus, and getting there faster than any car:
    – SE corner of Hackney Downs where Downs Park Rd crosses the junction by the three sisters pub. Opens up a major E-W route across the borough.
    – Lamb Lane filter to cross Mare Street. Links the grid west of london fields with the baffling one-way labyrinth between Morning Lane and Victoria Park
    – NE corner of Hackney Downs, cutting through Downs Lane into the Nightingale Estate. Major N-S enabler away from the a10 and Clapton roads
    – (obviously) De Beauvoir. Clever filtering makes CS1 pleasant for about 2 minutes, before turning to shit again (to both the south and, to a greater extent, the north)

    A couple of mentions for odd little tricks (I did cycle for a certain app-based food delivery service so I have a few tricks)
    – Ashwin Street by cafe Oto to avoid the lights at the Junction. Nice continued route through Dalston Square to Forest Rd and the East too. Mind out for pedestrians, builders and lost satnav cabbies in Ashwin Street, get off and walk if it’s busy crossing Dalston Lane and watch out everyone walking outside the library
    – Numerous blocked roads in Lower Clapton/Homerton East of Chatsworth are pretty nice
    – End of Ickburgh Rd coming out at Clapton, nice way to then cut through from Southwold to Comberton to the river without having to deal with the Upper Clapton rd
    – Speaking of Southwold, there’s a nice filter on to Casimir/Millfields
    – Where would we be without the filter by the playground off St Jude St?

  5. Al Gulland 13/07/2016 at 12:02 pm #

    @simon – agree about cobblestones on columbia road, council is upgrading the junction at the point where it meets hackney road so maybe they’ll do cobble’s next. i go through ion sq gardens then along baxendale to get back onto columbia road. speed bumps on columbia road are a bit severe though.

    A cut through i use is off morning lane. there’s a cycle path heading north opposite chatham place which takes you up to lower clapton or turn right half way up along sutton place and then onto homerton row to get through to brooksby’s walk avoiding homerton high st.

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