Until very recently, cycling to Central London from Leytonstone was a chore – and a potentially lethal one. Anyone riding the most direct east-west route had to negotiate Bow Roundabout, scene of the tragic deaths of Brian Dorling, Svitlana Tereshchenko and Venera Minakhmetova, all of whom were killed by HGVs. The only other practical route was via Ruckholt Road, a three-lane horrorshow with juggernauts from New Spitalfields Market inches from your elbow. It was here in 2012, that cyclist Dan Harris was killed by an Olympic shuttle bus. In November last year, six London cyclists were killed within two weeks – nearly half the grim total of 14 for the year.
Last summer I more or less gave up commuting by bicycle, but the fortnight of deaths was the last straw. I just couldn’t face Bow anymore – and I’m a very experienced and assertive urban cyclist. I decided that until something significant changed for the better, my ride would take me no further than the Tube station.
Well, now a change has come. The Olympic Park has fully reopened, and after some experimentation I’ve found a route to work that I actually enjoy. It removes the Bow/Mile End/Aldgate sections entirely. Most of it is on fairly quiet roads, and a pleasing amount of riding is away from traffic completely. It’s a straight line from Lake House Road in Wanstead Flats through the Olympic Park to Hackney Wick – where you can drop down to street level in a lift. A twiddly bit via Wallis Road, over the A12 on a shared footbridge and you’re in lovely Victoria Park. From here, all of central London awaits you. Of course, any sensible country would have made the largest city park constructed for 150 years into a paradise for cyclists. This being Britain there isn’t even a cycle path leading to the Velodrome, although there is a nice car park.
I was asked on Twitter about this route, so here’s a map – Crownfield Road, Leyton is at the top right, with Victoria Park at the bottom left. Click to embiggen.