Ride-to-work homes along London's new cycle superhighways

Homes for London’s soaring number of bike commuters are springing up along two new major cycling routes given the go-ahead this week.
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London’s love affair with the bicycle is boosted by news that two new cycling superhighways have been approved, running east-west and north-south across the capital. The new routes, set for completion in mid-2016, will make life easier and safer for cyclists and cut journey times — great news for those who get to work by bike.

The number of Londoners cycling to work has more than doubled in a decade. With more than 170,000 journeys each day, bikes make up 24 per cent of rush-hour traffic in central London.


The superhighways will open up home buying opportunities. Co-ordinated action by Transport for London and local councils means the routes will integrate with newly developed areas along their paths, providing flats and offices, street-level shops, bars, restaurants and pavement cafés. Developers and architects are including cycle-friendly features that encourage residents to cycle and conform with a green housing agenda aimed at reducing car use.

Quick pit stops
At Elephant Park, a new 2,500-home neighbourhood in Elephant & Castle at the southern end of the superhighway from King’s Cross, every home will have a secure cycle parking space, while green cycle routes will run through the development to improve connectivity. There will also be 90 new Boris Bike docking points and a “cycle clinic” for fast repairs. A new phase of 593 homes launches in March. Call Lend Lease on 020 3675 9955.

Two Fifty One Southwark Bridge Road, a new tower with 270 flats close to Borough, will have a cyclists’ lounge, gym, private cinema and wifi zones. Prices from £450,000. Call 020 3468 9251.

Segregated: cyclists get their own lanes in this image of the superhighway near Blackfriar's Bridge on the Embankment

Residents at The Filaments, an apartment complex in Wandsworth town centre, from where there is a cycle route to Westminster, have formed a weekend biking club for excursions along the river and tours beyond London. Flats are priced from £630,000. Call Mount Anvil on 0845 0779770.

The Bad and the Ugly 
If you are a bike-riding young professional, the idea of living close to the route for a quick commute to the office is compelling. The superhighways build on piecemeal cycle lane improvements of recent years and will connect to all of London’s main business districts.

More than 30 of the capital’s ugliest, nastiest and most dangerous road junctions — Archway, Swiss Cottage, Elephant & Castle, Vauxhall and Aldgate among them — will be transformed, and the upgraded public areas will benefit the wider community, especially pedestrians.

The 18-mile east-west superhighway will stretch from Barking to Acton. Riders will have a 13ft-wide “segregated” two-way track on major thoroughfares including Victoria Embankment, Parliament Square and the Westway flyover. Work on the Tower Hill to Paddington section has already started. The east-west route will intersect with the north-south King’s Cross to Elephant & Castle superhighway at Blackfriars.

Get Fit for Free 
Britain’s cycling Olympians have inspired thousands more people to get on their bike, both as a get-fit pastime and as a cheaper alternative to commuting by car or train. The Cycle to Work scheme has resulted in more than 500,000 people taking advantage of a tax incentive to buy a bike. A report by British Cycling and the London School of Economics shows that cycling is worth about £3 billion to the national economy.

Two-bedroom flats at New Capital Quay in Deptford, with a cyclists' swing bridge link to Greenwich

No nicking
With top-of-the-range bikes as costly as a car, and bike theft common, secure storage is a priority for home buyers and renters. So developers are installing underground bike racks and cages, and providing fewer car parking spaces. Galliard has built a swing bridge for cyclists at New Capital Quay, a swish riverside scheme. Straddling Deptford Creek, the bridge provides better links to Greenwich town centre, and for the first time in the area, a continuous cycle path runs beside the Thames. Two-bedroom apartments cost from £870,000. Call 020 3355 0966.

Rentals en route
Londoners are already renting close to Boris Bike docking stations on the edge of Travel Zone 1 and at locations deeper into Zone 2. Cyclists can take advantage of the 30-minute free-of-charge period. “And landlords are buying more  buy-to-let properties close to docking  stations because they get good rent  and  fewer void periods,” says Stephen Ludlow of estate agent Ludlow Thompson.

From £870,000: two-bedroom flats at New Capital Quay in Deptford, with a cyclists' swing bridge link to Greenwich. Call 020 3355 0966

Riding high
New skyscrapers along the southern spine of the north-south superhighway are designed with cyclists in mind. One Blackfriars, a 50-storey tower at the foot of the bridge, will have 300 basement cycle spaces plus cycle stands at ground level. Prices start at £1.2 million for a large one-bedroom apartment. Call St George on 020 7871 7188.

From here, the route passes through Ludgate Circus, Farringdon and runs alongside Mount Pleasant, the huge Royal Mail depot where hundreds of new homes are planned, before reaching King’s Cross, Europe’s busiest transport interchange. The new 67-acre district behind the station is largely car-free and will have 20 streets, 10 public squares, 20 restored heritage structures and office and retail space.

Flats in The Plimsoll Building alongside Regent’s Canal cost from £1.1 million for two bedrooms, with affordable-rent homes through Dolphin Square Foundation. Call 020 3691 3969. 

Canalside developments are popular as cyclists can ride safely and quickly along the towpath, bypassing busy and hazardous roads. Green cycle routes are opening up too, particularly in east London and the Lee Valley, as part of the Olympic infrastructure legacy. Lock Keepers, a canalside apartment scheme in Bow, is on the National Cycle Network. Prices from £335,000. Call 020 7021 4842.

The Hackney Hub
Hackney is London’s cycle “hub”, with one in seven residents using a bike as their main mode of transport. The borough’s cool, bike-friendly culture includes community repair workshops, cycle groups and “cycle cafés”. Regent’s Canal, stretching from Little Venice in the west to Limehouse Basin in the east, is the main artery through the borough.

Mondrian in Shoreditch is a new development moments from Columbia Road Flower Market. Genesis housing association is offering a choice of tenures to suit different lifestyles and budgets. Shared-ownership flats start at £141,250 for 25 per cent, or £565,000 outright. One-bedroom apartments cost £1,725 a month to rent. Green design, including triple glazing and solar heating, keeps running costs low. Call 0800 542 7236. 

He's fit: Nick Curtis insists cycling is the quickest way to get across town. Image by Alex Lentati

Two wheels good: what London cyclists say
Nick Curtis, writer: “These new routes will open up the city and encourage even occasional cyclists — or those fearful of traffic or daunted by distance — to realise the pleasure of travelling the capital by bike. As a middle-aged, slow pedaller who resumed biking in my forties, I have still found two wheels the quickest way to get across town, even when I was regularly cycling from my office in Kensington to the Olympic Park in 2012.

“That journey and others on my daily commute involve braving notorious intersections — the Bow Roundabout and Vauxhall gyratory that have claimed cyclists’ lives — which will now be made much safer by the segregated cycle paths in the Mayor’s current and future proposals. The new routes will eventually make those from Barking and Acton, and hopefully beyond, realise how reachable the city centre can be by bike. 

“Then there are the other benefits: it’s healthier, greener, and generally better for the blood pressure than public transport or driving. Back in my twenties, I recall a terrifying ride, on A-roads without cycle lanes and full of thundering lorries, from Greenford to Croydon. Imagine if you could do that on a safe path separated from the menace of motorists.”

Andrew Neather, journalist: “I’m glad the Mayor is putting in proper, segregated cycle superhighways on the key north-south and east-west routes. As currently envisaged, they’ll be a huge improvement on the first generation of non-segregated blue lanes, which were very little help at all. 

“Still, we need a much bigger network of segregated cycle lanes to really transform cycling in this city. One for the next Mayor.”

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