Since the start of the lockdown we have been going on a few cycle rides in our area of South West London. It has been mainly me with my two boys, Edward who is 9 and Elliot who is 6. We have been on bike rides in May and June 2020 and then again in November and December.
Below are the cycle routes we have done during this period but first I wanted to share some of our top tips on how to plan the day and also the safety rules to make sure everyone is safe on the road.
Although we choose paths that are for cycling, often to get to the cycle paths, will involve cycling on roads and on cycle lanes.
We cycled to the London Eye from Tooting and the route we followed was the Cycle Highway from Tooting to Clapham Common and then the Quiet Cycle Pathway from Clapham to Vauxhall. Although we did it on a Sunday, which would have meant there were less cars on the road, it was still stressful dealing with the noise, crossings etc.
The best thing to do is preparing the kids for the busy roads in advance and also stopping every time something is not right.
Some top tips on how to plan the day
- Make the most of the day and plan to spend it outdoors and include something for lunch (we usually pack sandwiches).
- Also pack up water, fruits & snacks that will keep the kids going.
- Stop regularly for brakes as their little legs might get tired.
- Plan a bigger break to have lunch to break the journey.
- We usually have the bigger break when we have arrived at the destination and then snacks for the way back.
How to make sure you and the kids are safe?
Plan the route in advance and communicate it to the children
It can be quite tricky and even stressful to cycle with kids as they don’t always listen and with cars on the road there is always a real danger. So it is important to plan the route and communicate it to the kids so that they know the way you’re going to cycle, in their heads.
Set out rules about who is going first, the number of stops and where to stop if needed
We try and lay the rules out first, such as who’ll be first in the line, the number of breaks we’re going to have etc, where we are going to stop and where can we stop if we need to. All this before we set off.
Cycle sensibly and not too fast
That’s especially relevant for my youngest, the 6 year old who can be very competitive and wants to be first, overtake or cycle as fast as possible as if he was in a race. When that happens we stop, talk about it and set the rules out again.
No chatting or getting distracted
Something that happens quite often while cycling is that the boys will start asking me questions or point at something, which can be very dangerous. We stop again when that happens and make sure they don’t talk when on roads or paths full of people.
Be aware of parked cars opening doors suddenly
There has been a few occasions when parked cars have suddenly opened the door and luckily that was quite ahead and we had time to slow down and go around them. When that happens suddenly it can be very dangerous so it is something we talk about with the boys as a safety thing to be aware of. The rule here is to check and anticipate what might happen, slow down and be prepared to stop.
Make sure you are very visible to the drivers behind
I know this is an obvious one but it is so important to make sure the the drivers have seen us. That is my job and I will sometimes be very bold about it and stop and check when I need to and make eye contact with the drivers behind us.
The cycle routes we have cycled on in South West London
Battersea Power Station
To get to Battersea Power Station we go from Tooting to Wandsworth Common and from Wandsworth Common to Battersea Reach, through cycling paths alongside Trinity Road.
At the big Wandsworth Town Roundabout there is a subway for crossing on the other side and into the Battersea Reach apartment blocks. Once there the Thames Pathway is designed for pedestrians and cyclists and we follow it along, all the way to Albert Bridge and Battersea Park.
Once in Battersea Park, we cycle across and on to another path along the river until we reach Battersea Power Station.
To the London Eye
To cycle to the London Eye from Tooting, we went on the Cycle Superhighway 7 to Clapham Common and then on to the Quietway 5 from Clapham Common to Vauxhall.
The quiet cycle way was much better than the superhighway because of the noise, even though we were there on a Sunday. Still cycling with the boys through Balham and Clapham was a bit stressful. Couldn’t wait to reach Clapham Common so that the boys could cycle across the park for that section.
The Cycle Superhighway 7 is in green in the map and the Quietway 5 is in purple. Map is available on the TFL website
The Wandle Trail
The Wandle Trail is a really nice cycle route and it is for pedestrians and cyclists only. The only parts that are on the road are the parts for getting there.
For us we go through Springfield Hospital, a short part of Broomwood lane and then Magdalen road until we reach the Wandle Trail in Earlsfield.
The trail goes from Earlsfield to Morden Park Hall and is along the river Wandle for the most part. There are some parts that go through some back roads near Colliers Wood but they’re quiet roads.
It has some lovely places to visit along the way such as Abbey Mills and also Seen City Farm and the final destination Morden Park Hall.
Link to the Wandle Trail map is here.
Wandsworth Common and Battersea Reach
Cycling to Wandsworth Common does involve cycling on the road for a short section. Once we reach Wandsworth Common it is safer and easier.
To get to Battersea reach we go through the cycle paths along Trinity Road and then via the Wandsworth Town subway, across on to the other side and by the river.
I hope you found this useful and have some information on cycle routes to do with kids in South West London.
I would love to hear from you if this has encouraged you to cycle more and use any of these routes.
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