Cycle handlebar

Cycling in Plymouth

Plymouth City Council is committed to encouraging and developing cycling in the city. Cycling is a good way to stay fit and healthy, it is also cheaper and often a quicker way of getting about, especially for shorter journeys.

We are investing in walking and cycling facilities across the city along with supporting programs to give people the skills and confidence to cycle. This program is bearing fruit with Department for Transport surveys showing more than a 40 per cent increase in cycling between 2010 and 2014.

Plymouth's growing cycle network, and a range of other useful information is included below.

If you would like a printed copy of the cycle map posted to you please email

The document below is the presentation shown to Destination Plymouth about walking and cycling and how it can contribute towards Plymouth growing as a visitor destination.

The document below is the presentation shown to the Devon and Cornwall Group of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport about Plymouth's Cycling Strategy.

National Cycle Network

Plymouth is well positioned on a crossroads of the National Cycle Network routes 27 and 2, and has cycling links nationally and internationally to Brittany and Northern Spain. There are a number of rides that can be started in Plymouth, either as day trips or as the start of something longer!

From Millbay Docks via the Hoe, follow the National Cycle Route 27 signs and you will end up in Barnstaple using the Sustrans Coast to Coast route.

The Plym Valley path starting at Laira Bridge and finishing at Clearbrook provides excellent traffic-free cycling. Suitable for all ages, this makes a gentle round trip of about 29 kilometres. Other options are a circular route around the Rame peninsula using the Cremyll and Torpoint Ferries, or using the railway station to access the countryside along the Tamar Valley.

About the National Cycle Network (NCN)

The National Cycle Network (NCN) is being developed by Plymouth City Council in partnership with Sustrans and other local authorities and organisations. Nationally, Sustrans, a sustainable transport charity, has received Millennium Funding from the lottery to develop the NCN in partnership with local authorities such as Plymouth City Council. The NCN was the first project to receive Millennium backing and is the only fully national Millennium Project covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nationally the aim is to have at least half the network on traffic free routes and paths, this is certainly the aim in Plymouth so that the routes are:

  • safe - for children and less experienced cyclists
  • useful - for local journeys
  • memorable - for visitors

In Plymouth, as elsewhere, we aim to encourage people to try cycling for at least part of their journey. Clearly cycling can help to:

  • reduce congestion and traffic pollution
  • retain people's fitness and good health
  • keep down travel costs
  • generate community and social well-being
  • reduce harm to the environment

"Over the last five years, the strongest success story in walking and cycling has been the National Cycle Network, co-ordinated by Sustrans. At a time when cycling levels have been no more than steady, and walking in decline, cycling and walking on the Sustrans Network has risen steadily, increasing from 60 million journeys in 2000 to 126 million in 2003."

Walking and cycling: an action plan. Department for Transport 2004

Cycle routes

Cycling plays a crucial role in the local transport system. It is environmentally sustainable, cheap and efficient, it is also an excellent form of exercise to increase general fitness. It's good for your heart and lungs, and for improving stamina and muscular strength. Cycling regularly also helps to relieve anxiety and stress, and can be fitted into every day routines. Cycling facilities include:

Cycle lanes

  • These are areas of carriageway designated and marked for use by pedal cycles. They can be either advisory or mandatory. Cycle lanes alert drivers to the presence of cyclists and give cyclists greater confidence. They can be introduced to help cyclists by-pass queuing traffic and lead cyclists to special facilities such as advanced stop lines at traffic signals. They are most useful where there are few side roads and no parking or loading requirements.

Mandatory cycles lanes

  • These are marked with a continuous white line and are supported by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) which prohibit vehicles from driving or parking in the lane. Mandatory lanes must be discontinued at side road junctions but the use of a short length advisory lane may preserve continuity.

Advisory cycle lanes

  • These are marked with a broken white line and do not require a TRO. They can be continued across side road junctions. Both advisory and mandatory cycle lanes can be coloured to emphasise their presence. Cycle lanes are generally between one metre and two metres in width depending on flows and site characteristics although a minimum width of 1.5 metres is recommended. An additional 500mm "buffer" zone is recommended where a cycle lane passes alongside designated parking spaces.

Contra-flow cycle lanes

  • These are becoming more widely used as a cycle priority measure. They are mandatory cycle lanes which allow cyclists to travel against the prevailing flow of traffic in one-way streets, within the designated lane.

Contra-flow cycle streets

  • These are a relatively new innovation. They can be introduced in lightly trafficked roads where the site characteristics prevent the introduction of a formal contra-flow lane. they do not affect existing parking arrangements and are defined by signing and cycle markings at intervals.

Cycle paths

  • In some circumstances it may be considered unsafe to designate areas of carriageway as cycle lanes. Where pedestrian flows are relatively low it may be appropriate to provide a cycleway on the footway. It is recommended that footways are at least three metres wide if a cycle path is to be considered but, in practice they may be accommodated on narrower footways when flows and site characteristics permit. Cycle paths may be one or two-way. Cyclists and pedestrians may be segregated by a white line or some other feature or may share the full width of the footway. In either case complimentary advisory signing is normally provided.

Cycle tracks

  • These are traffic-free, off-highway cycle routes normally shared with pedestrians. The Plym Valley track is a prime example of a successful cycle track. It forms a vital link in the National Cycle Network (NCN) and provides a high quality, safe pedestrian and cycle route, encouraging people of all ages and ability to walk and cycle, both for short and longer journeys, for leisure and commuting.

Cycle lockers

There are cycle lockers provided at the following four sites in Plymouth which can be rented on an annual basis to allow you to store your bike. The cycle lockers are provided and run by BikeAway. Please check the BikeAway website for rental prices and availability.

Information and resources

If you would like a printed copy of the cycle map posted to you please email

PDF icon Cycle guide [460KB]

* This is a large file and could take a long time to download.

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