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Details of first seven routes revealed, more than 20 others will be finished or under construction by 2016

London’s first two Quietways cycle routes will open in May next year, one running from Waterlooto Greenwich, the other from Bloomsbury to Hackney with a planned extension to Walthamstow.

Transport for London (TfL) hopes to have around 30 of the back-street routes, which give cyclists an alternative to busy main roads, completed or under construction by 2016. Sections of some routes will form part of the planned Central London cycling grid (pictured).

Sustrans, which has been awarded the contract by TfL to support the rollout of the network across the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London, says that five more routes are currently at design stage.

They are:

  • Regents Park/Marylebone to Gladstone Park in Dollis Hill
  • Waterloo to Crystal Palace
  • Aldgate to Hainault - first phase Whitechapel to Fulwell Cross
  • Waterloo to Wimbledon via Clapham Common
  • Clapham Common to Croydon.

Sustrans will be joined in delivering the £120 million network by four partners –infrastructure design specialists Royal Haskoning from the Netherlands and the UK’s Phil Jones Associates, road safety consultancy Local Transport Projects, and the inclusive cycling charity Wheels for Wellbeing.

The routes are designed to follow roads with low levels of traffic, and will be largely unsegregated, although that does raise concerns of cyclists having to share the road with rat-running motorists.

Most work will involve signage, including on the road itself, surface improvements and, in an attempt to improve traffic flow, the removal of features such as chicanes.

Where the route requires that a Quietway briefly joins a main road, there will be full segregation as well as direct crossing points.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “If you would love to hop on a bike but feel intimidated by busier roads, these Quietway routes will be perfect, connecting parks, backstreets and waterways to create secret passages through London.

“They will get you where you need to go on a route you might not have known existed until we showed you. They will make cycling much more accessible for ordinary people, in their ordinary clothes, revealing some of London’s hidden gems along the way.”

Construction of the first route from Waterloo to Greenwich starts this month and will mainly run on back streets through Borough, Bermondsey and Deptford.

The second route, from Bloomsbury to Hackney, will include sections through local parks, with work commencing in January.

German Dector-Vega, London director at Sustrans, said: “Sustrans is delighted to be named as the winner of the Quietways contract and will start work immediately to deliver the best possible cycle routes for Londoners.

“We’re pleased to be working with our partners to help London find solutions for population growth, remain economically vibrant and become an increasingly pleasant and healthy place to live.

“The Quietways programme is just one part of a much larger cycling transformation happening in the capital, and these safe and convenient routes are an important step in the right direction.”

According to TfL, half of the trips that could be made by bike in London, many of them currently made by car, are in the Outer London broughs.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “Cycling is becoming more and more commonplace in our city, and we know many others would like to do so.

“The network of Quietways we will be introducing will open more options up for new and infrequent cyclists to take to the streets using less busy roads.

“This will further help shift more journeys away from cars, particularly in the outer boroughs.”

More information on the Quietways programme can be found on the TfL website.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.