To cycle or not to cycle?

TfL cycle map from Blackheath to Covent Garden
Is it realistic to think about cycling from Blackheath to Central London (near Covent Garden)?  I only wondered, because I really should find a good source of exercise, and TfL’s site appears to suggest a route, but it looks like it might take ages… Also, I’m a bit rusty and slightly concerned about getting knocked off my bike!

But I like the idea of going through the tunnel under the Thames to get to work.  Does anyone else do this?  Is there a quiet route – please send me a Google Map!


Filed under blackheath, transport

13 responses to “To cycle or not to cycle?

  1. I’ve cycled between Woolwich and Battersea a few times. It takes about an hour on the most direct, but busy routes, on the main roads. I’ve also cycled along the river a few times, mostly along the river paths, where they’re available. Less road traffic and more pleasant and scenic, but takes quite a bit longer. Still quicker than using public transport normally though! You learn from experience what the best traffic/pedestrian-dodging routes are.
    It’s great fun cycling through the foot tunnels under the river, but you have to make sure nobody is looking as you’ll get told off if caught. I’ll walk it through if its busy with pedestrians.
    I usually take my bike onto the Thames Clippers boats which takes me most of the way into work, and then I can cycle the last bit, instead of having to faff around with the trains, tubes and buses. If I decided to cycle the full route I’ll usually do it on the way home rather than to work, as I’ll get very sweaty and smelly by the end of the journey.
    Bikes are great!

  2. Depends if you’re talking about commuting or leisure. A few times I’ve taken the Thames Path from Greenwich into town, though it’s frustrating as it leaves the river so often. Enjoy getting lost though, that’s the main thing. Commuting I can’t comment on, as happily my life is arranged so my work is a 20-minute cycle southwards…

  3. Humber Fisher

    I cycle from Westcombe Park to Soho most days. I’m lucky that my office has a bike store and showers, which means I don’t have to worry about getting too sweaty. Takes me about 45 mins most days – though it depends how fast I pedal!

    The thing with choosing a ‘quiet route’ is that it will almost inevitably take a lot longer. I find it’s better to choose a main road with a bus lane – it’s normally a lot quicker.

    • Paul

      Hi which way do you go? I will be doing a similar route from Eltham to Liverpool street soon. Cheers, any hep would be greatly appreciated

      • Alan Burkitt-Gray

        When it’s not raining (as today) I cycle from Blackheath to Blackfriars; and my student daughter cycled to Lincoln’s Inn Fields most days this summer for her summer job.
        The route for us (the first bit would be different from Westcombe Park) is across the heath, through the park, along the A200 to Southwark Park (actually not too busy at 8.45 or so); through Southwark Park right across the A200 to the Thames Path at King’s Stairs Gardens; along the Thames Path (pushing across the footbridge over the dock near the Design Museum); up to Tooley Street near City Hall; across London Bridge.
        An alternative if the lifts are working on the Greenwich foot tunnel is across there, along the middle of the Isle of Dogs, aiming for the TfL cycle highway that runs along Narrow Street to the Tower.

  4. matty

    I used to cycle from Blackheath to just under Telecom Tower. My route was through the park, over the creek, out along Jamaica road, over Blackfriars and then along High Holborn. I loved it. It would take me 30-35 minutes and the excersize and a shower at work meant I always felt a hell of a lot better than if I’d used public transport.

  5. I go from Deptford to Pimlico most days – probably along some of the route you have been recommended. It’s generally quicker than you think (35 mins for me and I’m not the quickest cyclist) but you will need to have your wits about you when you are on or crossing the main roads. Watch out for kamikaze cyclists too, it’s not just the motorists who offend!

  6. noel

    I cycle down the Old Kent Road most days…it’s not as scary as you think, altho if you can avoid the 9.30am-4.30pm block I find that the most ‘lively’ time down to ‘White Van Man’ – the earlier and later the better. The river routes are just too meandering unless you are just on a jolly.

  7. I’ve been cycling from Lewisham to Westminster and back each day. TFL suggested a more southerly route than the one you depict above. I have timed myself on that route, and the ‘main’ route that Google Maps suggest. 8 minutes difference, though the TFL route is certainly quieter with less white vans, &ct.

    Crucially, I have found that it is quicker to cycle door-to-door, than it is to walk to the station, wait for a train, stand on a train, walk to work.

  8. Leo

    Its quite a quick ride into central London from Blackheath – I commute to Victoria each day via Greenwich Park – Creek Road – Jamiaca Road to Tower Bridge and then on through London to my office in Victoria. It takes me about 34 mins. It can be dangerous – I’ve been clean knocked off my bike before and nearly been crushed against railings many times! Embankment and Tower Bridge area can be a bit tricky. Most buses and lorrys dont give a monkeys about the “cycle lane” so watch out. This said, its 100 times better than getting the train (and quicker!).
    We do need a good bike shop in Blackheath or Greenwich though.

  9. Cameron

    Hi there… I am moving to Blackheat in Jan10 and considering the ride to work in Covent Garden also..

    I just wondered if anyone had any updates on the best route to take.. still the main roads are best? if someone has it on google maps can they please send me… MANY THANKS!

  10. Bob Land

    In the 1950’s , I used to cycle back and forth from Blackheath to the Corn Exchange near Tower Hill.

    I used the following route :

    (1 ) Down Blackheath Hill to Deptford.
    (2 ) Then follow Deptford Church Road.
    (3 ) Then Evelyn Street.
    (4 ) Then Lower Road.
    (5 ) Then Jamaica Road
    (6 ) Then cross Tower Bridge, to the Corn Exchange in Mark Lane.

    I can’t remember how long it took , but there was not a lot of traffic on the roads in those days.

    Would this still be a feasible route today ?

  11. I cycle to High Street Ken from near BH hospital. Takes about 55 mins. I find the off road routes impractical on an every day basis because they tend to involve parks and so be closed for the winter commute, and have pedestrians and kids meandering unpredictably about whereas roads, dirty and unromantic, have cars which (generally) indicate their intentions and are usually open.

    Cycling anywhere in central london from BH is more than feasible; in fact by car or train my journey would be min 10 mins longer.

    When I used to cycle to Wapping, going across the heath through the park, through the foot tunnel and up the tow path was a lovely route and very direct. Peckham and Camberwell not so much but every route holds its own charm when you do it regularly.

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