Living, as I do, towards the north end of Camden, I find the North Circular Road very fast and convenient for getting down to Richmond and the south west. From Barnet or Brent or even Harringay, it must be even more so.
But it isn’t exactly a cycle-friendly environment; it’s the sort of place where you’re hooted at for not turning left even from the centre lane.
So I feel it’s time we made cycling a more ‘normal’ activity on that road, at least on the section from Waltham Forest westwards. (South and east of there, along the Roding Valley, cyclists and horses are both excluded.)
On Sunday, September 18th we did a campaigning ride around both it and the South Circular, using a bypass route for the section we’re not allowed on. In my imagination beforehand we were to be a peloton of 8-12 fast experienced cyclists, who would sit in a block in the left lane and remind vehicles that we have every right to be there.
The reality wasn’t quite like that, but perhaps more effective.
Seven riders participated for at least part of the circuit, with four of us going all the way round. We were more strung out than any self-respecting peloton would have been (a reflection of the poor pace-setting of the leaders), but that probably had the advantage of making us more awkward to overtake.
We left Swiss Cottage quite early, so the traffic was light at first. It had built up noticeably by the time we’d had our first stop at the Ace cafe, and remained busy for the rest of the day. Happily, as expected, there wasn’t much HGV traffic, but there were three lanes of stationary cars for most of the Bounds Green section where the ‘improvement’ works are going on.
We had lunch in Dulwich Park as planned; the Woolwich Ferry worked perfectly; we managed to squeeze in two tea stops as one of us was beginning to flag a bit; and we enjoyed it. The route goes through lots of interesting and varied places: parks and leafy suburbs; urban high-rise estates; industrial areas; classic 30s ribbon development; wonderful brick railway arches at Stonebridge and Hornsey; and even a bit of off-road along the Roding valley.
So, many thanks to David, Bruce, Jeff, Nick, Rob and Mustafa for an excellent day out. Here’s to a repeat next March.
Photos by Geoff Stillwell. A few more are available on Flickr.
Have a look at the planned schedule for the ride.