Mapping London by cycle

Jon on his cycle outside the Tube

Meet Jon. πŸ‘‹ In 2021, he started a cycling YouTube channel to share easy rides between different points in London, using only quiet streets and protected cycle lanes.

So, whether you’re a nervous cyclist or looking for alternative routes, you can follow Jon through the City by cycle.

Cycling in London

I moved back to London a few weeks before lockdown in 2020. With reports of upcoming restrictions, I wanted to fix up my cycle so I could have more flexibility to get around and exercise. In those first few months, I started couriering to earn some extra cash and just for something to do!

To stay connected and keep active, I’d also meet friends to go for rides. I was really surprised that a lot of my friends didn’t know about a lot of great routes that I took for granted – when I suggested that we cycle to Greenwich, they thought I was mad!

As I’ve always cycled, I thought it was common knowledge that there’s routes along backstreets, Cycleways and quiet roads that make cycling in London really enjoyable.

Starting a cycling YouTube channel

I started thinking about putting together some videos to show different A to B trips. If I just told people about nice journeys, I thought they might assume it’s only because I’m already a confident cyclist. But if people can see the roads themselves, they can make up their own minds.

To help new cyclists feel more prepared, I always narrate the cycle routes and include timings and downloadable GPS maps with my videos. I like the idea that I might be encouraging other cyclists to try out new routes too.

I started by asking on Twitter to see if anyone was interested and if there were any specific journeys that people wanted me to plot by cycle. My first few videos were quite jerky, so I invested in a camera mount to give a better picture of the routes. While people still want to see routes across the City, I’ll keep filming!

Creating new cycle routes

My rule of thumb is that I try to only include streets that I think a 12-year-old would be comfortable cycling on. This is to try and keep a consistent level of quality in my videos.

To plan new routes, I spend a lot of time looking at maps and consultations to see the new cycling infrastructure that’s being put in place.

When I’m planning my routes, I check two main sources:

  1. Safe London Cycling map – a collaboration between @SafeCycleLDN and London Cycling Campaign, this map does a great job of showing all the different cycling infrastructure, including TfL’s Cycleways.
  2. Google Maps – whenever I’m not sure of a road, I’ll look on Google Street View to familiarise myself with it before I decide if I’ll add it to the route.

My favourite places to cycle

Camden is well on the way to being an amazing place for cyclists with its segregated network. You could cycle to commute, to go to the shops or the park or pub – you don’t need to know the way as you’re never far from safe cycling infrastructure.

North, south and east London are all great in their own way – it’s west London that I don’t know very well, so I’m going to challenge myself to explore there more with my cycle.

With so many options and areas still to visit, I don’t have a favourite place to cycle in London. Some routes that I would recommend are:

The Wandle Trail

Whether you do some or all of the Wandle Trail – this is a lovely, quiet route that follows the river Wandle.

Walthamstow to the City

It’s quite a long cycle (45 minutes) and wouldn’t have been on my list until the new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and cycle paths came in.

Cycleway 10

I love this route – which you can see in my video from King’s Cross to Greenwich. It’s a great example of a backstreet route done properly, with interventions and cycle tracks in the right places to make it pleasant for all riders.

Map your cycle route

If you want Jon to plan and record a new route, tweet him at @joncstone! πŸ“±

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