A Guide to Cycling in Exeter: Bike Hire, Cycling Routes + Where to Lock Your Bike
With excellent cycling facilities and almost everywhere in the region within reach in no more than half an hour, Exeter is great place to go out on your bike.
But just what is it that makes the Devonshire city so ideal for cyclists?
Exeter Cycling Statistics
Firstly, unlike the busiest cities of the UK, many of which are far from ideal for cycling in, Exeter is pretty small by comparison, with a population of about 130,000. And with its beautiful countryside and villages and picturesque hilltop views, it’s certainly not a place to pass up as a cyclist.
The stats certainly support this. A study published by Toothpick, for example showed the percentage of people in each UK city who cycle at least once a week, for any amount of time. Exeter scored a fantastic 9.5/10, based on annual survey data from the Department for Transport.
This was not solely based on how healthy people are in Exeter, but also how easy it is to cycle – whether there are enough safe cycle paths, how much traffic there is, and so on.
And plans are afoot to improve the cycling infrastructure in Exeter even further, with hundreds of thousands of pounds being invested into a bid to double the amount of cyclists in the city by 2021, including widening and realigning cycle paths to make them more accessible to more people.
Cycle Paths in Exeter
This Ordnance Survey map shows you the best cycling routes in Exeter lasting no more than two hours or extending longer than 40 kilometres:
As you can see, all over the city there are great places to explore on the bike. For instance, there’s the 32km ride from Exeter to nearby town Tiverton, or the cycle to Budleigh, which is both mainly free of traffic and takes in fantastic views of the Exe Estuary Nature Reserve, the Exeter Canal and the Devon coast.
Elsewhere, you can head further afield to Killerton, an 18th-century, 6,400-acre National Trust estate, ideal for exploring the Devonshire countryside on off-road cycle paths.
Exeter Bike Hire
For the time being at least, Saddles & Paddles in Exeter is your best option for renting bikes to take around the city, especially if you’re with your family.
Located right by the traffic-free Exe Extuary Trail cycle path, it is perfect for groups who want to experience the scenic route. It’s reasonably priced, too, with adults starting at £7, concessions £6 and children £5. They also offer a family bike deal of one or two adults’ and two or three childrens’ bikes (maximum four) starting at £20 (full prices list can be found here).
But, as of September 2019, Exeter will also accommodate people wanting to rent electric bikes, thanks to the launch of Co Bikes in the city, to coincide with ‘Cycle September’. Bikes can be hired using the ‘nextbike’ app, and costs only £1 per 20 minutes or £24 for the day (8-24 hour hires).
You can also hire bikes from shops including Forest Cycle Hire, based in Haldon Forest Park (from £14 for half a day, £16 for a day – full prices list here), and Route 2 Bikes in Topsham (from £6 for half a day, £10 for a day, £25 for three days, £55 for one week – full prices list here).
Bike Shops in Exeter
There are lots of great independent bike shops around the city to check out, too. If you’re after an electric bike in Exeter, head over to the Bike Shed, which is registered as a Bosch Electric Bikes Technical Service Dealer. That means they’re trained and recommended by one of Devon’s main retailers to buy your next electric bike, or to offer a bike service or repair to your current e-bike. They also sell BMX, folding, mountain and road bikes, and many more, too.
Or, if you can’t after a used bike but can’t find the right one for you on Bikesoup.com, where there are about 2,500 to choose from, head over to Ride On, an second hand bike charity based in Exeter encouraging people to cycle more often. Based on Exeter’s quayside, they cater for any type of bike for any age.
Where To Lock Your Bike in Exeter
About 450 bikes were reported as stolen between July 2018 and June 2019 in Exeter, so like everywhere else, it’s important to remember to keep your bicycle locked up safely if you have to leave it unattended.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of places in the city to securely leave your bike. At Exeter St David’s railway station, for example, a 24-bike, two-tier rack was installed at the opposite end to the cycle stands, which were already available for you to leave your bicycle.
As well as this, £4,000 lockers were launched in Exeter city centre by BikeAway, led by former Dragons’ Den contestant Jason Hamlyn, in October 2017, and are able to use at the back of the city library.
And that’s it; keep safe on your bike in Exeter and you’ll surely find it one of the most tranquil, stunning places to go cycling in the UK.