Best cycling routes in London when you’re learning to ride (or new to London)

Vulpine Men's Harrington Jacket worn by Andreas near Kings Cross

Cycling in London for the first time can be quite a dramatic change from what you might previously be used to. There are more cars, cyclists, pedestrians and generally a lot going on around you. It takes a bit of time to get used to riding in the city. With this in mind, we’ve listed a few easier routes that will help you grow your confidence. These use a combination of cycle superhighways, quiet routes and canals.

As always, it’s worth mentioning the free cycle training lessons that are available to cyclists. I’ve been on one and it was incredibly helpful. If you are completely new to cycling then checkout our guide to learning to ride a bike as an adult.

Islington Green to London Fields

This route is short but great to hop from place to place. You can start with the Santander bikes by Islington Green and go along Essex Road (using the bus lane) until you reach the start of the cycle route on Northchurch Road. Its pretty much a straight line to London fields where you can post up in the park, visit Broadway Market, or carry on a little further to Victoria Park where you have miles of car-less cycling at your fingertips.

Alternatively, you can follow the route we’ve linked to below via CycleStreets. This avoids the busy Essex Road if you’d prefer something a little more quiet to start with.

I like this route because while it is all on the road, the streets are usually empty. The odd car means you do learn to deal with traffic around you, but for the most part you can relax and enjoy the cycle. It also runs through some beautiful streets in this part of town.

Route can be found here.

Tamsin Trail – Richmond Park

This route is not on a road, but you share the path with walkers, runners, and cyclists so it’s still great to practice your road skills with other users. While there wont be any traffic lights or Give Way signs, you should still use these park paths to remember basic road rules like keeping left, checking your blind spot and signalling if necessary.

Other than that, Richmond Park is a great place to learn on a bike, as well as explore. The Tamsin Trail is a 7.35 mile path that runs all the way around the park giving you more access compared to if you were on foot. There are also little icecream stops along the way – learning to ride can be taxing task!

Route can be round here.

Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace – The Parkland Walk

The Parkland walk is a 4.5 mile trail that runs from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace. Its uses an old railway line so the path is nice and wide and free from traffic. The entrance to the walk within Finsbury park is just on the northern side of the tennis courts. While the path is uninterrupted by cars – you can always practice your road skills by riding to Finsbury Park on the bike or riding part of the trail along adjacent road.

Route can be found here.

Westminster to Wandsworth – Cycle Superhighway

I don’t think this post would be complete without a mention of the Superhighways. They take you through some busy parts of London but are often on protected paths, separate from traffic. They’ll give you a lot of experience in navigating the city alongside fellow cyclists.

I’m a fan of the Westminster to Wandsworth (CS 8) because Battersea Park is a great place to stop for a break if you need to. However, take a look at the TfL site and pick the one nearest to you.

Watch out for rush hour though, cycle traffic can get quite heavy and Superhighway etiquette is still in its infancy. Overall, these highways are safer than the open road and easy to follow.

Routes can be found here.

Angel to Victoria Park – via Regents Canal

I’m going to start this recommendation with a strong caution. The canal path can get very, very busy. So it always isn’t ideal for learning to ride. The reason why it’s on the list is because it is a very beautiful path, and when quiet it is fantastic for taking an easy ride down, but pick your time. You can drop down onto the path from behind Angel Tube station just off Colebrooke Row.

It’s often quiet during the week mid-morning after the commuter traffic or mid-afternoon. The best time to go is early morning on the weekend (if you’re up that early) – either way always give way to foot traffic and use a bell when passing under bridges. If you ride all the way along to Victoria Park, go grab some brunch or a coffee at The Park Café or continue on riding along the path towards Bow, which leads me to the next great spot.

Route can be found here.

Bow and the Olympic Park

The roads and paths around the Olympic facilities are really fantastic. This is one of my new favourite places to enjoy cycling because there’s a lot of space and some cool things in the area to check out. To get there from the canal path, cycle towards Hackney Wick/River Lea and there will be crossings onto the Olympic Park. From here you can use the roads or paths and cycle up to the stadium, head to the aquatic centre, or find a nice patch of grass to have a picnic or read a book.

The great thing about the Olympic park when you’re learning to ride is that there will be some traffic – but not a lot, so you’ll learn to be on a road. There are also clear cycle lanes so there’s a safe distance between you and any traffic and it’s a very nice (and often unexplored) part of London.

From the Olympic Park you could hop back on the canal bike path and head down towards Limehouse, go into Stratford, or park up the bike and grab a beer at Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick.

Routes can be found here.

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6 Responses to Best cycling routes in London when you’re learning to ride (or new to London)

  1. Human Cyclist 14/09/2017 at 7:10 am #

    Worth noting the parkland walk is not paved so avoid in the wet and also can get busy at weekends. Its primarily a walk, hence the name, so respect pedestrians too!

    There’s plenty of quiet routes to practice, as you say new super cycle highways are good. Many bus routes are also ideal where you have uninterrupted bus lanes like on Essex Road or Kingsland Road, which will give you some experience of traffic without becoming traffic!

  2. Christian 14/09/2017 at 11:22 am #

    It’s Tamsin Trail and not Tasmin trail btw….

    • Duncan Hall 15/09/2017 at 6:57 pm #

      Thanks for spotting Christian, all updated

  3. Tristan 15/09/2017 at 12:01 pm #

    Thanks this is very helpful!

  4. Peterson 15/09/2017 at 12:43 pm #

    Thanks Duncan Hall to present an uptodated post on best cycling routes especially when someone learning to ride or new rider to London. In London the roads are busy with cars, bus, cyclists, pedestrian & many things. So for this raeson you have mentioned 6 easier routes which are 1.Islington Green to London Feilds. 2.Tasmin Trail – Richmond Park. 3.Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace – The Parkland Walk. 4.Westminister to Wandsworth – Cycle Superhighway. 5. Angel to Victoria Park – via Regents Canal. 6.Bow & the Olympic Park. I think all of these routes are for beginners as well as newcomer in London. If I go to London in future for cycling I must go to those routes indeed.

  5. Richard 27/12/2017 at 5:50 am #

    Wow! This is a nice place to start. London is one of the busiest city in the world. You mentioned six routes are the best to start. I am planning to visit London next year. Because my sister lives there. I will try to visit your mentioned place. Thanks!

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