Cycling Bristol: Riding through One of the UK’s Greenest Cities

The city of Bristol in South West England, which made it into our ‘10 of the Greenest Cities in the World’ list in 2016, is fast becoming one of the friendliest bike cities in the UK. A year prior, it was given the distinction as the greenest city in the United Kingdom. New cycling initiatives, improved routes and cycling awareness are just some of the reasons why cycling in Bristol has become so popular.  And, one of the reasons we now call this city, our home!

The allure of cycling in this green city isn’t the only reason Bristol is great for cycling. The city also boasts lovely, picturesque routes, like the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, which is the most famous of these routes, and arguably the most spectacular. It is generally flat, making it perfect for novice riders and ideal for some sightseeing along the way. I’m luck enough to live just off this bike path, and commute 20 minutes along it each day to work – much nicer than cycling on the busy city roads!

The Bristol to Bath Bike Path in snow – taken during my commute to work!

Then there’s the over 15-mile Ashton to Pill Path, and it is as challenging as it is exquisite. It passes along the River Avon, with cyclists having the option to explore Leigh Woods, a vast expanse of woodland filled with rare flowers. The lesser-known Frome Greenway loop is well worth taking as well, as you’ll get to see the best of both the city (Queen Square and Castle Park most notably) and countryside (Hermitage Wood and St. Werburghs City Farm, in particular). 

The shorter Harbourside Loop is incredible, too, as it involves biking along Bristol’s historic harbour. Also worth taking is the Ashton Court Estate Route, which is tailor-made for mountain bikers of every level. Beginners can take Ashton Court’s popular bike trail, while experts can take the middle path, which is filled with luscious greens, and ends with a nerve-racking descent. The Strawberry Line is another popular route and passes through the divine-looking Thatcher’s Orchards.

With all these bike route options, you can probably see why Michael and I chose to move here!

The thrilling descent at the Ashton Court Estate

These are but a few of the routes that make Bristol increasingly bike-friendly and you can expect most of them to improve in the coming years with Bristol Live reporting about likely renovations to the UK’s National Cycle Network. The plan to improve the 16,000-mile network, as part of a broader effort by the UK government and related stakeholders to further promote the country as a cycling destination and perhaps more importantly, to “inspire a new generation to get on their bikes.” They have the perfect advocate in this regard in Laura Kenny, who is included in Coral’s list of iconic British sports women since 2000. Kenny won gold medals at the London and Rio Olympics, making her one of the most successful British athletes of all time. Now, she is using her success as a platform to encourage people to saddle up. She is, in fact, an active partner in various initiatives that promote cycling, notably Soreen’s Cycle Project.  

Projects like Soreen’s seem to be working, as The Telegraph notes there has been an increase in the number of new cyclists in the UK. This is a great sign as cycling is one of the most popular ways of getting fit, prolonging life expectancy and saving people money in commuting. Approximately two million people cycle at least once a week in the UK, with the number of people cycling to work more than doubling between 2001 and 2011. These figures, however, don’t even include tourists who visit cities like Bristol, whose green reputation has made it a popular destination for cyclists to see the city.

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