Geography

The human and physical geography of the London basin means Cycle Orbital is neither circular nor centred on the capital.

The River Lee corridor, the need to cross the Thames, and the line of the North Downs means it is scarcely two miles from the City at Limehouse and within the M25 throughout the eastern and southern sectors.

On the other hand, Heathrow, the Thames corridor and Hertfordshire rail-track cycleways pull it well outside the M25 in the west and north; Harpenden is fully 30 miles from Charing Cross.

This eccentricity has the advantage of opening up a range of landscape and cycling conditions, but while there are long stretches where the M25 is heard rumbling close by, the whole network is as traffic-free or as traffic-‘lite’ as possible.

And Essex is not forgotten. Extended Spin-offs and a Spin-off 1-2-3 route that links them ensures that landscape is explored and included - and makes the whole network look a bit more circular.

Three alternative route options add choice and variety: crossing the Thames at Woolwich or Greenwich; North Downs Way (high) or Pilgrim’s Way (low) in Kent; and in Hertfordshire, inner St. Albans-Hatfield or outer Harpenden-Welwyn arcs on Hertfordshire 'Lost Rails'.

In knitting Cycle Orbital together there was the discovery of several link sections of disused road or byway.

Conveniently and ingeniously, the whole network splits into twelve ‘hourly’ arcs, twelve spokes and twelve spin-offs.