On your bike: The UK's top cyclist-friendly locations revealed

Calling all MAMIL’s (middle-aged men in lycra), experts in the saddle, and those who adore pedalling around Britain, we have curated a list of the top cycling-friendly locations across the country, just in time for the cycling season.

To help us decide which location was the very best for cycling adventures, we analysed publicly available data, taking into consideration Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, potential number of cycling routes, the local authority rates of road traffic, square mileage for exploration, and rates of bike theft.

The top 20 cyclist-friendly locations in the UK


Our research named the Shropshire Hills as the number one location to visit on two- wheels, followed by Cornwall in second place, and beautiful East Devon taking the third spot on the list.

1. Shropshire Hills

2. Cornwall

3. East Devon

4. Dorset

5. Isle of Wight

6. Blackdown Hills

7. Suffolk Coast and Heaths

8. Lincolnshire Wolds

9. North Pennines

10. Surrey Hill

11. High Weald

12. Norfolk Coast

13. Cotswolds

14. South Devon

15. Northumberland Coast

16. Wye Valley (partly in Wales)

17. Chiltern Hills

18. Solway Coast

19. Nidderdale

20. North Wessex Down

The Shropshire Hills earned its place at the top of the list, as the location never failed to feature in the top ten for each defining data category. This included coming out in fourth place for road traffic rates, and eighth place for the number of cycling routes.


To see how each location faired for mapping different cycle routes, the number of previously recorded ‘intermediate’ to ‘expert’ level cycling routes* were tallied up. The Cotswolds had the largest number of potential routes, followed by Chiltern Hills and High Weald, while North Devon Coast had the fewest.


The Cotswolds is an ideal area for road cyclists, as there are a multitude of bridleways and quiet country lanes to explore. The idyllic surroundings are beautiful to cycle through, and the network of different routes makes accessing anywhere on two-wheels much easier. The Cotswolds is renowned for its rural villages with traditional stone houses, rich history, and charming little cafes selling local produce. When passing through, there are plenty of pit-stops such as Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, and Tetbury, that are worth parking up the bike for to grab a coffee and absorb the peaceful surroundings.

  1. Highest ranking:

    • 1. Cotswolds
      2. Chiltern Hills
      3. High Weald
      4. North Wessex Downs
      5. Blackdown Hills
  2. Lowest ranking:

    • 1. North Devon Coast
      2. Northumberland Coast
      3. Tamar Valley
      4. Solway Coast
      5. Chichester Harbour



For those who might want to stop for an ice-cream or take a nosey around town on foot, the rate of bicycle theft** in the surrounding local areas was analysed, to see where was safest for holidaymakers to leave their bikes unattended. The results showed that the coastal regions of Cornwall, Tamar Valley, and East Devon had the lowest crime rate, compared to Dorset, North Wessex Downs and the Cotswolds, which had the highest rate of bike theft per 1,000 residents.


Cornwall and Devon are not just the safest places to dismount and explore, the South West of England also provides miles of varying countryside and seaside to ride amongst. The Cornish coastline swaps bustling traffic for fishing villages, sandy beaches, and old mining towns, whereas Devon offers unspoilt green landscapes, hill climbs around the moorlands, and repurposed routes via viaduct and railway.

  1. Highest Ranking:

    • 1. Cornwall
      2. Tamar Valley
      3. East Devon
      4. North Devon Coast
      5. South Devon
  2. Lowest Ranking:

    • 1. Cotswolds
      2. North Wessex Downs
      3. Dorset
      4. Chiltern Hills
      5. Nidderdale



Feeling safe on the road, with minimal chance of running into a driver with road rage, is a desirable element for any long bike ride. In order to find out which has the most cyclist-friendly roads, traffic data from the Department for Transport*** was reviewed. Unsurprisingly, the results found that the tiny Isle of Wight had the least amount of road traffic.


The Isle of Wight’s traffic-free roads and byways, make the little island a paradise for cyclists. As the Tour of Britain 2022 visits here in September, its hilly terrain with ocean views make for a challenging, yet beautiful ride. Known for its ‘Round the Isle of Wight’ route, cyclists can explore the outskirts of the island in one go, or at a more leisurely pace that allows you to observe points of interest, and enjoy the quaint little villages along the way.

  1. Highest ranking:

    • 1. Isle of Wight
      2. Northumberland Coast
      3. Dorset
      4. Shropshire Hills
      5. Cornwall
  2. Lowest ranking:

    • 1. High Weald
      2. North Wessex Downs
      3. Cranborne Chase
      4. Cotswolds
      5. Chiltern Hills



In summary, if you’re struggling to decide where to take your wheels for a spin this summer, the UK isn’t short of places to visit. Whether you’re looking for a riverside ride, countryside cycle, or incline bike ride along the coast, explore a little further outside your front door and visit the UK’s renown Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty this summer.



Our research:


For this study, we analysed Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (an area of countryside designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value), in England and Wales, to discover which would be most suitable for groups of cyclists.


To rank each location, four metrics were taken into consideration; the number of cycling routes available, local authority rates of road traffic, the square mileage for exploration, and rates of bike theft.


Each location was given a score based on where they ranked against each metric, with 1 being the best score. Some destinations were given the same score if they ranked the same as each other.


The sources for each of the rankings can be found below.


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