London by Bike: cycle routes

Time Out's staff show you the best cycling rides in the capital

We sent out five of our most adventurous writers to explore all corners of London and recommend the best routes for you to discover on a bike. You can tackle each route in full or simply select a section of the journey to try for yourself. Where possible, our writers have highlighted the nearest Barclays docking station where you can pick up and drop off your bike, but for a clearer view of all Barclays docking stations, check out this map. Remember to bear in mind the price of hiring a Barclays bike before embarking on your cycling route.

Choose your routeCentral l North l South l East l West

The route in detail

Pick up your bike at the Barclays Cycle Hire docking station just behind Arnold Circus, a pretty little bandstand at the centre of the historic Boundary Estate – the network of handsome redbrick buildings which make up the first council estate in Europe. Pedal round the cute Sunbury Workshops and make your way down Columbia Road, with its row of craft shops and garden supplies stores. It’s worth noting that, on a Sunday morning, you’ll need to detour down Wellington Road to avoid the stretch of the street that becomes crammed with flowers and flower buyers. If it’s a quiet day, you can pedal all the way down Columbia Road to its end, then cross Hackney Road straight over to the Hackney City Farm (4). There’s a nice stretch of bike-only road that takes you just up to Broadway Market. Stop before the hump of the bridge, and you can pause at Lock 7 (1), a great cycle cafe that overlooks the canal, and serves espresso, snacks, a bit of bike chat and reasonably priced puncture repairs.

From here take the canal eastwards, and cycle with the swans and ducks that reside along its stretches for company. After just a few minutes you should reach Victoria Park (2), and you can pull into this beautiful green expanse – one of the largest and most beautiful in London – for a ride in its fantastically well-maintained grounds. Unlike the similarly magnificent Regent’s Park (which was designed by John Nash, teacher of the park’s own 1845 architect James Pennethorn), cyclists are welcome to pedal round the paths alongside the pedestrians, and the wide walkways are easily large enough to accommodate all. Cruise around the perimeter until you get to Grove Road, which bisects the park. Take the road through the park, with playgrounds and tennis courts either side of you, until you get to Victoria Park village. You might like to stop for a breather in this picturesque little hub of nostalgic shops, culinary purveyors (including the superlative butcher Ginger Pig), excellent pubs and cutesy cafes. There are good pubs in all corners of the park, and Royal Inn on the Park, which you’ll find just as you enter the village, is accustomed to catering for thirsty riders and joggers. Wing your way round the roundabout and take a left into Victoria Park Road. Follow the street all the way down to Mare Street, and head right towards Vyner Street. You can stop for a mooch around the many little galleries that populate this arty side street, and feel right at home with the media types who lock their bikes up three deep against the lamposts, and come here for a beer and a private view. With a limited-edition print from an up-and-coming East End artist rolled up in your basket, it’s easy to cross back over Mare Street (3) to Broadway Market, where you can pedal your way back to Columbia Road, and drop your bike off at the docking station right at the end of it.

Ridden by Katie Dailey