Sunday, 19 June 2016

New routes

Victoria Embankment Gardens, London

My regular 12-mile daily commute on my bike from Stoke Newington to Vauxhall has adapted over time. Safety rather than speed has always been uppermost in refining my route. I like the backroads and old lanes through the city – with names like Back Hill, Shoe Lane and Tudor Street, and on past the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. The city seems a different kind of place just a street or two off the main routes.

Waterloo Bridge

The biggest change to my route came a few weeks ago with the opening of a new 1.5 mile stretch of segregated cycle lane along the north bank of the Thames from St Paul's to the foot of Big Ben. It meant I could say goodbye to the hazardous crossing of Blackfriars Bridge and having to thread my way past construction work towards the National Theatre and Westminster Bridge. London is hardly a cycling-friendly city even now, but things are improving.

County Hall, St Thomas' Hospital, Waterloo Bridge

The new north bank route meant different views: these drawings show the south side of the river that I used to cycle along until a few weeks ago. My journey was suddenly quicker, and I found I had the chance to stop and draw the views up and down the river in the time I'd saved: the cluster of towers on the South Bank downstream, and the old County Hall, St Thomas' Hospital and Lambeth Palace upstream. In Victoria Embankment Gardens, just across the river from the London Eye, people lingered in the sun after work before going home or heading out for the evening.