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Back in 2008, Bristol was named the UK’s first ‘cycling city’, pledging to double the number of people on their bikes in the city within three years.
So, how far has it come in the 11 years since then, and just how easy it for cyclists to make their way around the city nowadays?
Bristol Cycling Statistics
Well, supposedly, it’s the best city in the UK to cycle in.
That’s according to a study published earlier this year by Coya, German bicycle insurance specialists, which ranked 90 cities worldwide based on their cycling infrastructure, road quality, accidents and bike-sharing schemes.
Bristol scored 43.67 out of a possible 100, making it the best-ranked UK city, and the 15th-best in the world.
And they certainly managed to make good on their 2008 pledge, as Bristol enjoyed a 94 per cent increase in cycling commuters from 2001 until 2011.
Meanwhile, in 2015, a report by Sustrans (Britain’s leading sustainable transport charity) found that there are 18 million bike rides taken in Bristol per year, with 31 per cent of its people cycling once a month or more.
This high praise was also echoed in a study published by Toothpick showing the proportion of people in each UK city who cycle at least once a week, for any amount of time. Bristol ranked as one of the best, earning a superb score of 9.6/10, based on annual survey data from the Department for Transport.
All in all, then, it’s a pretty great city to go cycling.
Cycle Paths in Bristol
This Ordnance Survey map shows you the best cycling routes in Manchester lasting no more than two hours or extending longer than 40 kilometres:
Unsurprisingly for a city with a reputation for being a fantastic place to cycle, it is full of great routes both near and far from its centre.
There’s the Harbour Loop – the picturesque, free-of-traffic ride around Bristol’s harbour – or the Ashton Court Loop, which takes in a ride over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the country park. This, along with Leigh Woods, is hugely popular for mountain biking and off-road cycling.
For more information about planning your journey, Better By Bike is a great site covering Bristol’s cycle maps and routes, bike shops and events, and many more.
Bristol Bike Hire
If you find yourself in Bristol without two wheels of your own, then fear not, because the city has plenty of places where you can rent a bike.
Firstly, Bristol Tandem Hire are ideal if you want to hiring high-spec, British-made tandem bikes which will be easy to ride while you discover the city.
What’s more, if it’s an electric bike you’re after, then Bristol Electric Bike Hire have you covered with their Danish, easy-to-use models. At reasonable rates of £10 for one hour, £20 for three-and-a-half hours, £35 for seven hours, or £40 for a day, there’s no better place to go if you’re planning on visiting the city’s hillier areas.
If you’re part of a group, then Webbs Cycle Shop are probably your safest bet. They mainly sell and hire bikes but also offer a ‘custom hire service’ which is aimed at families, parties and so on. They deliver the bikes to you and can pick them up from anywhere in Bristol and nearby.
Or, if you’re visiting Ashton Court, you can hire bikes from Pedal Progression, which also offers accessories, repairs and bike skills coaching as well as bike hire.
And finally, if you’ve just made your way into Bristol by train, then the city’s Temple Meads railway station has its own Brompton Dock folding bike hire scheme, too.
Bike Shops in Bristol
There are also lots of fantastic independent bike shops in Bristol which will make sure you find exactly what it is you’re after.
Bristol Cycle Shack in Temple Quay offers bike services from £40, as well as repairs and sales of a wide range of models, and also sells important cycling gear and accessories, too. In addition, all bikes come with a next day delivery guarantee.
Elsewhere, Jake’s Bikes offer all sorts of services, from mechanics who are Cytech level 2 qualified, with at least five years of experience. An honest opinion and a price quote is offered before you agree to any servicing, too. They also offer bikes for sell and for hire, too, including electric bikes.
But if your heart is already set on an electric bike, then Atmosphere Electric Bikes will surely be the place for you. Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm, they sell a wide range of new and used e-bikes, as well as offering services and repairs.
Or, if it’s second hand bikes you’re after and you’ve had no luck on the excellent website, Bikesoup.com, then look no further than the Bristol Bike Project, who aim to repair and re-house all types of used or unwanted bicycles.
Where To Lock Your Bike in Bristol
Of course, while Bristol can be a great place to cycle, it can be a particularly dangerous place to leave your bike unlocked and unattended; the region’s notorious ‘Bike Taker Gang’ didn’t earn this title for nothing.
Temple Meads station is among the safer places to lock your bike up, as are the other designated cycle parking stands found around Bristol. Just double-check to make sure there are CCTV cameras present and whether there are regularly people passing by where you choose to leave your bicycle.
Also, if you study or teach at the University of Bristol, you are entitled to a heavily discounted bike lock, as well as free bike security marking and locked cycle parking facilities.
And that’s it, really – as long as you keep your bike and other belongings safe, you should find that there are few, if any, place in the UK better for cycling than Bristol.
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