Top tips – planning cycle routes

Now the evenings are getting lighter and the weather is warming up, we have some tips on how you can plan some great cycle routes.

April 13, 2023

Top tips

Try online planners 

If you search online for cycle routes you’ll get lots of results but they might not be exactly what you want. Fortunately, there are lots of websites that have done the hard work for you and can help you find cycle routes that suit you and your family. 

Try Let’s Ride from British Cycling. You can search your postcode or town and it will come up with suggested routes that have been tried out and recommended by riders. 

On the Sustrans website you can find all the routes on the National Cycle Network. You can specify whether you want a traffic-free route, which is especially useful if you are cycling with young children. 

Cycling UK also have a handy journey planner if you know where you want to get to. You can choose routes with quieter roads as well as traffic-free routes. 

If you’re planning a visit to a National Trust property, look out for one with a cycle route. There is a selection of family friendly and mountain biking routes, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. 

Maps and apps 

If you have a map app on your smartphone or computer, you can use them to find cycling routes. They don’t always have the best information on what the route is like however, and you can’t specify the sort of ride you want. 

There are lots of apps that will help you find and record your routes. 

Map My Ride lets you search your area and see the routes other people have saved. This is great to find cycle routes from people who have tried them, although they might not all be family friendly. It also lets you save your own routes so if you discover a great ride, you know you’ll be able to find it again. 

Cycle Streets uses the same maps as Cycling UK’s journey planner (see above), all handily stored on your phone so you can try them while you’re out cycling. 

The Cycle Maps app is written by cyclists for cyclists, and you can tailor the route to suit your style and the sort of ride you want. 

Join cycle groups 

Joining a cycle group is a great way to find new routes near you. Finding a relaxed or family friendly group and joining in with the rides is a great way to discover fantastic routes you might never come across any other way.  

Cycling UK have a database of groups you can search. You can specify your location and the sort of group you are interested in, including family and women only rides. 

If you don’t fancy a group ride, or you can’t make them, it’s worth having a look on social media for cycle groups. You can ask about routes near you and people are often happy to help. You can also see the routes people post and questions other people ask. 

Ask around 

If you know anyone who cycles, ask them for their route recommendations. Looking at a route on a map is useful, but tips from someone who’s tried it are even better. They will be able to tell you what the ride is actually like, and how to avoid any bits you might not fancy, like a very busy road or a big hill. 

There are lots of ways to get you started with a cycle route. The very best way to do it though is to find your own routes. Soon you’ll be the family everyone comes to for ride recommendations! 

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