Published: 30th September 2021
Over the past 18 months, the pandemic has put a lot of our community issues into perspective. As we discussed in a previous article – 4 ways cycling makes our communities healthier – one such issue was making our cities and towns more cycle friendly.
It has long been the dream of cyclists to enjoy a bike utopia like Amsterdam here on our own shores. However, if the backlash against low-traffic neighbourhoods shows us anything, it’s that the UK still has a long way to go to reaching these heights.
There are some cities trying to buck the trend though. These areas are good for cyclists because of path networks, signage, lanes away from traffic, access to the countryside, bike hire options and cycle parking infrastructure. In this article, we look at eight of the most bike friendly cities in the UK and see what our other metropolitan areas can learn from them.
With 900 cycle routes making up a whopping 59,305km of mapped trails, York can call itself the capital of cycling in the north of England. This is not just because of its on-road lanes but also its network of off-road bridleways. Couple that with a multi-purpose cycling centre and you have a city ready to welcome any type of cyclist. There is also extensive cycle parking infrastructure within the city when you need to dismount and roam on foot.
The Scottish capital recently hosted a finish of the Tour of Britain to represent its love of the bicycle. Arguably the most bike friendly city in the entire UK, Auld Reekie has 1,751 cycle routes criss-crossing the city that total a whopping 164,913km of mapped routes. Edinburgh has put a lot of effort into making the city more bike friendly over the past couple of years including widening bike lanes and installing more bike parking areas around the city. There are also plenty of green spaces to explore within the city and quick access to off-road trails outside of the capital.
Not to be outdone by its neighbour, Glasgow has also taken great strides in making itself as cycle friendly as possible. Scotland’s most populated city has steadily become more accessible by bike over the past few years and now hosts a total of 912 cycle routes. There are plenty of bike shops, signed routes along the Clyde and bike parking points throughout the city. Travelling into Glasgow and then hiring a bike to get around is a perfect way to explore this dear green place.
You may be surprised to see the nation’s capital on this list due to its high rate of cycle theft and traffic issues, but it is still very cycle friendly. Thanks to a total of 223,429km of mapped ways, many Londoners and commuters choose to traverse the busy city atop two wheels. Hire bikes are a great way for visitors to tour the sights and there are plenty of green spaces and signed leisure routes to follow. Now, it might be bike friendly, but the next thing London needs to tackle is whether it can be bike safe.
In 2008, the Department of Transport named Bristol Britain’s “first cycling city.” 13 years on and £23 million of investment later and Bristol has cemented that status. The investment resulted in a huge number of cycle routes totalling 96,947km of mapped ways which led to in it being awarded the European Green Capital Award in 2015. The city now has ample parking facilities, bike shops, wide lanes, traffic free areas and bike rental options. There is also the famous Bath Railway Path route, a 15-mile-long cycle path that connects the two historic cities. More cities ought to follow Bristol’s lead.
There is only one way to get around a place like Cambridge and that’s on two wheels. There is a long-held tradition of cycling in the historic student town and a lot of the campus is pedestrianised – excluding cyclists – so being on a bike really is the best way to see the sights. There are plenty of marked routes and bike shops within the town and it’s super easy to escape the urban environment if you want to venture further afield on country lane training loops. Like London though, Cambridge does have some issues to address. The University town is the second biggest area for bike theft per person (behind London) in the UK, so remember to take a decent lock with you.
The Welsh capital recently topped a Komoot commissioned nationwide poll asking the public for their favourite cycling city. This was because participants scored Cardiff highly on cycling infrastructure, cycle lanes, signage, facilities, countryside accessibility and a sense of personal safety when riding in the city. There are also a fantastic range of routes that begin in the city including the Taff Trail, Cardiff Bay Trail and Wales Coast Path.
Another city that placed highly on the Komoot poll was Newcastle upon Tyne and neighbouring Gateshead. There is an abundance of picturesque routes that stretch all the way from the Millennium Bridge to the city’s best sights. There are many cycle hubs too and the 170-mile Hadrian’s Cycleway, with its well-surfaced off-road trails, is by far the best way to enjoy the North East countryside.
Although improvements have been made, there is still a long way to go if any British city is going to match the positive cycling infrastructure seen in the likes of Copenhagen and Amsterdam. This shines a light on a larger problem associated with attitudes and government policies that prioritise motorists over any other mode of transport. Until these issues are properly tackled, the dream of having our cities feel like the cycling havens of our northern European neighbours still seems far off. Surely this can’t be the case forever?
As always, we wish everyone safe travels, however, if you or any of your family or friends are involved in an accident on the roads and require legal assistance from a Top Tier Legal 500 rated law firm, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can also be contacted on 0330 058 0377 for a free, confidential, conversation with a qualified serious injury solicitor. Alternatively, please send us your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll call you back. All enquiries are free and confidential.