Martin submitted the winning design for London’s first dedicated cycle route in 1977.
Now, 44 years on, he has worked up a network of recreational rides around the capital. During development the working title was the C25, in reference to the orbital motorway, and still in use in this blog library.
But the C25 is no more: Cycle Orbital is the new title – less auto-centric and more accurate. It will be given launch publicity when lockdown conditions are eased and the rail system is freely available. In the meantime, the website is fully operational; please visit it by clicking the logo.
The network comprises 12 Arcs, 12 Spokes, and 12 Spin-offs. That’s 800 miles of off-road and quiet cycling through varied landscapes – often beautiful, always interesting.
Please enjoy this blog library from the archive of photos taken on reconnoitre, laid out chronologically below. It has recently been updated (March 2021) with a series of lockdown posts. You can contact Martin for further information. Cycle Orbital’s website has been built by Anthony Cartmell at Fonant.
…Riders – and machetes – needed! The section of Cycle Orbital Arc 10 from Penn to Little Missenden encapsulates the best of the network: after a lovely ride up through Penn Bottom and a short walk/cycle through Penn Woods there follows a good mile of abandoned road after Beamond End. Alas, the lack of cycle traffic and recent spectacular hedgerow growth has made a prized segment almost impassable.
This mini-series of lockdown – personal history rides ends with an extra sixth; south into the West End and City. It’s been by far the most travelled route, taking me for forty years to a series of workplaces; St Paul’s Cathedral and other churches; Barbican and Festival Halls; Her Majesty’s (Phantom), Savoy (HMS Pinafore), Piccadilly (A Little Night Music), National (Sweeney Todd) theatres, and above all the Royal Opera House. Continue reading
The clockwise or anticlockwise spin round Hampstead Heath is my ‘local’, and at seven miles in its shortest form can be quickly done. But it also climbs to the twin high points of inner London, so it’s a good workout. The highest point, Whitestone Pond 134m, is also where I was born (in Queen Mary’s Maternity Home, just behind my right ear, now a care home), so the family and personal history sub theme of these six blogs is pleasingly maintained. Continue reading
In lovely spring weather, with blossom everywhere, I continue to log my favourite suburban rides – and clock up the miles for the cycle fundraising challenge in memory of my mother. The SW destination is always Richmond Park, and the traffic-free stretch (NCN 4) via the Royal Ballet’s White Lodge and Pen Ponds cafe through the centre of the park in particular, but variant routes to get there and back abound. Continue reading
Today I take a pre-equinoctial lockdown suburban ride in the only direction that permits a good section of Cycle Orbital riding – northeastwards. This is because I have a self-denying ordinance not to cycle on busy shared use paths and towpaths during lockdown, which rules out the accessibly close sections of the network (Hackney-Olympic Park-Greenwich) where it is heavily populated and busy. Continue reading
Spurred on now by a cycle fundraising challenge in tandem with lockdown suburban excursions, and having investigated my parental roots in Lewisham I set off next in the opposite direction, into Brent and Harrow – the heart of John Betjeman’s Metroland. This is where I spent my formative years, aged 7 to 17. Continue reading
The third lockdown is as restrictive as the first, but cyclists can spread their wings a bit for their daily exercise. I have found five basic routes – NE, SE, SW, NW and N, with variations (see footnote) – to use as on-road 20 milers, self-sufficiently equipped with water, snack and puncture repair kit. They have extended my knowledge and appreciation of the metropolis. Continue reading
Martin’s winning design in the Greater London Council’s competition to initiate 1000 miles of dedicated cycle routes. Evening Standard, February 1978
Epping Forest has had short shrift from Cycle Orbital. The rides taken over a decade ago, before this network was conceived, didn’t find a decent alternative to the busy A104 road running as a spine through the forest. Spinoff 2 has a rewarding section crossing the forest east-west; now at last Zone 5 Chingford and Zone 6 Epping are linked into the network. Continue reading
Checking out Cycle Orbital in ‘longshot’, with all 750+ miles of it standing out so well now against Ordnance Survey Light, a longstanding niggle was all the more clear: there is a long gap between Spin-off 10 and 11, and I knew there was fine Chiltern countryside there, especially around Ashridge Estate (arrowed). Furthermore, the existing Spin-off 11 (ringed) is a stubby 4 miles of admittedly good cycleway – but Continue reading
Cycle Orbital has its own site, so this is now an occasional blog. This autumnal Lockdown 2 is my first in London, and I’ve had to devise some 20-30 milers from the front door here in Camden’s Primrose Hill. So far I’ve chased the best of the falling leaves in three satisfying runs that conform to CO standards pretty well: as off-road, traffic-lite and rural-green (well, russet-gold) as possible: Continue reading