London’s newest cycle network Cycle Orbital has been launched to coincide with Bike Week, bringing recreational countryside cycling to Londoners and the South East with assistance from the rail network.
Cycle Orbital is an integrated network of cycleways: 12 spokes start from rail stations marking the limit of TfL’s Oyster Zone. They take riders out to the orbital circuit itself which is in sections of 12 arcs. To tie these rides into the broader region and the national cycle network, there are a dozen spin-offs.
Cycle Orbital has been devised by actor/singer Martin Nelson, 72, whose career includes West End (Phantom of the Opera), film (Mission Impossible) and the Royal Opera House. It is being launched in Cycling UK’s Bike Week.
Cycling UK’s head of engagement Helen Cook said: “We are delighted that Martin has chosen to launch his network of connected cycle rides for London in the same week as our Bike Week and I’m sure lots of our members in London and the surrounding areas will find it a source of interesting ride ideas.
“The pandemic has been a difficult time for arts and culture with venues shutting to the public for several months and many performers facing an uncertain future. Hopefully, we are beginning to turn a corner and the excitement of live performance to full houses will soon return.
“It is inspiring that Martin has been able to turn his creative talents to devising routes that will also bring joy to people, providing peaceful new routes to discover.”
Nelson added: “The idea for the network took shape over some years. The rule was to use off-road cycle paths or quiet byways and to avoid busy roads wherever possible. This has created a network that offers something for everyone, from short routes that can be enjoyed by families at weekends as well as some more challenging and adventurous routes for those who cycle more often.”
“All rides have been graded for hilliness, ride surface and percentage off-road; special features and family-friendly sections are indicated too. You can devise your own excursion from 5 to 50 miles, using Spoke – Arc – Spin-off combinations. A dozen highlighted rides are on the website as examples, such as trips to Epping Forest, into the Surrey North Downs, exploring the Windsor area, or using the cycleways of Hertfordshire’s Lost Rails.”
The website features detailed mapping, GPX downloads and extensive route guides. “Now that train travel is possible again and coronavirus restrictions easing, I’m really looking forward to getting out into the varied landscapes around London,” said Nelson.
“During lockdown, I have been only cycling within London, but it was really encouraging to see many more young families on bikes. I hope my network will inspire lots more to go out and experience the freedom of riding in new environments near London.”