Tower Hamlets: Brick Lane to Broadway Market

Cycle routes in London - A sign of the times?

This short but busy cycle route is jam packed with things to do and is perfect for a easy going weekend. It takes you through three of the East End’s most popular markets – Brick Lane, Columbia Road and Broadway.

If you decide to follow this route on a Sunday then Brick Lane market will be in full flow so you may need to get off your bike for the busiest section. Columbia Road will also be on, so you can either take a little side route around it, or lock up at one end and take a stroll through the bustling, blossom filled flower market.

Broadway Market is open on Saturdays but the street is full of independent cafes, pubs and shops to keep you satisfied.

Start your ride outside Whitechapel Art Gallery on Whitechapel High Street. The fantastic contemporary gallery always has an exhibition on show and is well worth popping in before you take to the streets. Currently you can see a collection of street photographs by Gilian Wearing – showing people holding signs describing their thoughts. If you look closely in the video of the route you might even spot one – a young woman holding a sign proudly saying ‘look at me’. Yes, Brick Lane is certainly one of a kind.

Once you’re feeling culturally content, hop on your saddle and take the left turn just outside the gallery up Osborn St, which leads onto Brick Lane.

Continue up the historic market road past the rows of Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants, towards the Brick Lane Mosque with its silver rocket like tower. Just after you’ll pass Café 1001 and their famous, seemingly always open BBQ on a side alley. If you’re feeling peckish already, stop for a snack, but be warned – there’s plenty more to come.

Cycle under the historic Truman Brewery and continue up and under the bridge of the new East London Lines connection. If it’s a market day, you’ll probably want to walk this section.

Take a moment to pop into some of the independent galleries and shops, such as Beach London on Cheshire Street to the right, and Lik+Neon on Sclater Street on the left, that both sell artwork from up and coming designers. Of course there is also the Brick Lane Gallery on the main road.

A little further up you will pass the two long-running bagel shops. No one knows which is better – they both always have a queue, and its well worth grabbing a classic Jewish east end staple: salt beef bagel.

Carry on up Brick Lane and cross over Bethnal Green Road. Take a left then a right onto Swanfield Street and at the end of the street take a right onto Virginia Road.

Follow this onto Columbia Road and take a right to cycle along to the bustling flower market. If it’s a Sunday, lock up at this end and take a stroll through the colourful street, which resembles a jungle in summer, or a pine forest in winter.

If you’re keen to keep moving, take a left down Ravenscroft Road, then the second left down Shipton Street, which will circumvent the market. You will rejoin Columbia Road just in front of the Guinness Trust Buildings – one of the earliest social housing groups.

Keep on pedalling following the cycle lane across Hackney Road and past the much loved Hackney City Farm. Feel free to wander in and wave at Peppa and Pearl – their two Tamworth Sows, or if not, bear left and keep on riding up Goldsmiths Row.

Whizz past the BMX dirt track, where you will see some far more adrenaline fuelled cycling at play, and keep on straight, cross the Regents Canal and you’re on Broadway Market.

On market days you can wile away the time sampling from the gourmet food stalls, and eyeing up pure breed pooches on walks with their fashionable owners. If the market isn’t on, the Dove, or Cat and Mutton pubs will readily provide a local ale and some grub.

London Fields is the perfect place to put your finally put your feet up, or, if you’re still feeling active – have a game of ping pong on the concrete table, or go for a few laps around the parks popular heated lido.

Route map: Brick Lane to Broadway

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