How to plan a cycle route to work

Riding to work allows time to take in the sights

How to plan a cycle route to work

By cycling to work you'll save time, money and stress when you free yourself from the daily grind of parking penalties, petrol prices and train fares. But how can you find a suitable route? Cycling UK's Journey Planner offers a choice of the quietest, balanced and fastest routes between two postcodes.

When you first start cycling to work, you may want to use the most direct route as you’ll be worried about arriving with enough time to catch your breath before settling down to a hard day’s graft. But in time, you’ll realise that one of the major benefits of pedalling in is that your commuting time is nearly always predictable – and you will never be late because of ‘leaves on the line’ or a broken down vehicle.

Before you decide your route and routine, you have a few decisions to make:

  • Do you want to have breakfast before you go or eat at work?
  • Will you shower in the evening or, if you have a cycle friendly employer, have a shower at work?
  • Will you work in your riding clothes or change out of them once you arrive?

If you ride fast and get sweaty, you'll need to change and freshen up when you arrive.

Taking it slowly 

If you ride slowly and not up a big hill, getting sweaty and needing a shower is less of an issue.

If time isn't a big issue, finding a quiet route to cycle to work is more enjoyable than just thrashing up the main road. This may take a little longer, but you may save time getting changed at work. 

Charlie, 48, from Guildford rides eight miles each way to work. He says: “I am lucky in that I have a variety of possible route options for my daily commute. I ride a hybrid so that if it’s fairly dry I can opt for a lovely potter in along a local canal towpath. But if I want to get to my desk more quickly, I just go down the main road and cut through the town. In reality, this only saves me about ten minutes, so most of the time I’m happy to leave slightly earlier in order to savour the time spent outdoors.”

I am lucky in that I have a variety of possible route options for my daily cycle commute.

Charlie, cycle commuter

Variety of routes 

Even commuting by bike can get somewhat boring if you never vary your route, so it’s good to investigate some alternatives, especially if you intend to ride all year round. Occasionally ice, snow or just a diversion will mean that a particular option is unavailable.

So where can you find a route that is both pleasant and rideable on a daily basis? There are all sorts of route planning websites, gadgets and gizmos out there that can help you plan a journey to work on two wheels that is both practical and enjoyable.

How Journey Planner works 

Journey Planner

Our Journey Planner is a good starting point – you simply put in your start/finish points and the system will do the rest. There are various layers of routes visible, from the fastest to the quietest or a balanced route.


Journey Planner

The Journey Planner is powered by CycleStreets, a UK-wide cycle journey planner system, which lets you plan routes from A to B by bike. It is designed by cyclists, for cyclists, and caters for the needs of both confident and less confident cyclists.

Do you want even more information about your route?

If you click for more details, it will even show you the location of traffic lights, the time it will take and the elevation covered. Plus you can see each section in Google Streetview too. 

The Journey Planner can also show you how hilly your chosen route might be. One of the best things about Journey Planner is you can give also feedback on route problems and recommend shortcuts, to help others. 

Journey Planner

Ask your colleagues

Always ask other people at your place of work for advice on routes, they might know a short cut to avoid a busy section. Perhaps you could even ride in together occasionally?

Changing seasons

The route that seemed like a breeze in mid-summer may become dark and discouraging in mid-winter. Don’t feel you have to stick to the same routine every day – one of the many joys of cycling is the variety of experiences it offers. 

Some days you may feel more energetic and want to tackle a hilly climb to get a bit more of a workout, whilst other times you may be short of time and will just take the fastest, most direct route.

When the weather really takes a turn for the worst, don’t feel you have to be a martyr to the cycling cause – it’s OK to take the train or bus or drive occasionally. If nothing else, it will make you realise how much nicer it is to be out in the fresh air and in control of your own destiny!

Journey Planner

Try Journey Planner 

Journey Planner

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