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What is it Really Like Cycling in Exeter?



In the heart of Devon lies Exeter, a city where urban life seamlessly intertwines with the beauty of the natural world. Exeter offers a unique experience for cyclists, allowing them to discover the captivating blend of city streets and tranquil countryside.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey to uncover the genuine essence of cycling in Exeter. From scenic lanes to bustling city routes, we’ll delve into the sights, sounds, and unforgettable experiences that define cycling in Exeter.

Whether you’re a dedicated local rider or a curious visitor, this guide is your key to unlocking the world of cycling in Exeter, where every pedal stroke reveals a new facet of this vibrant city.

Exeter City Cycling Statistics


Exeter, a remarkably cycle-friendly city, boasts impressive statistics and initiatives to support cycling. According to a 2022 survey, it ranks as the second-best city for cyclists in the UK, just behind Lancaster.

This status is attributed to its robust cycling infrastructure, featuring an extensive network of traffic-free paths and lanes, along with multiple cycle hire schemes.

Notably, 21% of Exeter’s residents cycle more than once weekly, surpassing the national average of 15%. The city’s compact layout and primarily flat terrain contribute to this high cycling rate, making it an easily accessible mode of transportation.

Various programs, like the “Cycle to Work” scheme,encourage cycling by offering financial incentives to employees for bike purchases and accessories.

Exeter hosts various cycling events, such as the “Exeter Bike Festival” and the “Exeter Cycle Challenge,” fostering a vibrant cycling community.

Detailed statistics further emphasize the city’s cycling-friendly environment, including over 100km of cycle paths and lanes and two cycle hire schemes: Exe Valley Cycle Hire and Exeter Community Bikes.

While 6% of Exeter’s population commutes by bike, below the national average of 10%, the city aspires to increase this figure to 11% by 2030. Notably, cycling accidents in Exeter have decreased recently, with 43 reported incidents in 2022, marking a record low.


Cycle bike hire in Exeter


  1. Co-bikes: Co-bikes is a popular bike-sharing scheme in Exeter. You can find their bikes stationed at various locations around the city. They offer a convenient and flexible way to rent a bike for short periods. Check their website or mobile app for station locations and pricing.


  1. Exe Valley Cycle Hire: Near Exeter, Exe Valley Cycle Hire provides a wide range of bicycles for rent. They offer bikes for all ages and abilities, making it a nice choice for individuals, families, or groups looking to explore the scenic routes in the surrounding area.


  1. Exeter Community Bikes: Exeter Community Bikes is a social enterprise that offers bike hire services. This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a specific type of bike.


  1. Saddles and Paddles: Located on Exeter’s historic Quayside, Saddles and Paddles offers bike hire services along with kayak and canoe rentals. They provide a convenient starting point for exploring the city and the Exe Estuary Trail.


  1. Cycle Shops: Exeter has several local bike shops that may offer bike rental services. It’s worth checking with these shops to see if they have rental options and to inquire about their rates and availability.



Top 3 cycling routes in Exeter


Exeter offers a variety of beautiful cycling routes to explore. Here are the top three cycling routes in and around Exeter:

Estuary Trail: The Exe Estuary Trail follows the Exe Estuary, offering stunning views of the river, wildlife-rich wetlands, and charming villages. The trail is primarily flat and well-maintained, making it suitable for cyclists of all levels. You can start in Exeter and ride to Exmouth, passing through places like Topsham and Lympstone. The Exe Estuary Trail combines urban and rural scenery, making it a delightful and relaxing ride.

Haldon Forest Park: For those who enjoy off-road cycling and forested terrain, Haldon Forest Park is an excellent choice. Located just a short ride from Exeter, this forest offers a network of mountain biking trails suitable for various skill levels. Haldon Forest Park provides an exciting and challenging experience for off-road cycling enthusiasts.

Exeter Canal and Quayside Loop: This urban cycling route takes you through the heart of Exeter, exploring the city’s historic canal and Quayside. The way combines cycling paths with scenic waterfront views, historical landmarks, and vibrant cafes and shops. You can start at the Quayside and ride along the Exeter Ship Canal, passing popular sites like the Double Locks Pub and the historic Turf Lock. This loop offers a pleasant mix of city life and natural beauty, making it a fantastic option for a leisurely ride.

Bike shops in Exeter


Exeter has several bike shops where you can purchase bicycle accessories and get maintenance services. Here are some of the bike shops in Exeter:


Halfords: Halfords is a well-known national chain of automotive and cycling stores. You can find them in the Marsh Barton Trading Estate.

Decathlon: Decathlon is another national chain with a wide range of sports and outdoor equipment, including bicycles. They offer a variety of bike types and accessories at their store in Exeter’s Marsh Barton area.

Bikelands: Bikelands is an independent bike shop in Topsham, just outside Exeter.

Sidwells Cycles: Sidwells Cycles is a long-established bike shop in Exeter’s city center. They offer a range of bicycles, parts, and accessories. They also have a workshop for bike repairs and servicing.

Ride On: Ride On is a bike shop and cafe located in Magdalen Road, offering a range of bicycles and bike-related products. It’s a great place for cyclists to meet, relax, and discuss their cycling adventures over coffee.

Co-bikes Shop: Co-bikes, the bike-sharing scheme mentioned earlier, also has a shop where you can purchase bicycles and accessories. You can find them on Sidwell Street in Exeter.

Cycles Scuderia: Cycles Scuderia is a boutique bike shop in the city center offering high-end road and gravel bikes. They also provide bike fitting services and accessories.


Where to lock your bike in Exeter


Locking your bike securely in Exeter is essential to prevent theft. Here are some common and recommended places to lock your bike:

Bike Racks: Exeter City Center and various neighborhoods have bike racks installed where you can securely lock your bike. Look for these racks near shopping areas, transportation hubs, and popular destinations.

Cycle Parking Facilities: Some areas in Exeter provide dedicated cycle parking facilities that are typically more secure. For instance, the city center and the university campus may have these facilities.

Train Stations: If you’re commuting by train, Exeter’s train stations usually have designated bike parking areas or bike racks.

Shopping Centers: Large shopping centers in the city, such as Princesshay and Guildhall Shopping Center, often offer bike racks near the shopping areas.

University Campuses: If you’re a student or staff member at the University of Exeter, you’ll find bike racks and dedicated bike storage facilities on campus.

Secure Bike Storage: Some accommodation complexes, both residential and commercial, offer secure bike storage or bike lockers for residents or employees. If you live or work in such an area, inquire about bike storage options.

Private Bike Storage: If you have access to a private garage or storage space, this can be an excellent option for keeping your bike safe from the elements and theft.

Public Facilities: Some public buildings, like the Exeter Library or leisure centers, may have bike racks or designated areas for bike parking.

When locking your bike, use a sturdy lock and secure it to the bike rack or structure through the frame and wheel. It’s advisable to double-lock your motorcycle, using two different types of locks (e.g., a D-lock and a cable lock) for added security. Additionally, consider removing efficiently removable accessories or components, like lights or quick-release front wheels, to deter theft.

Always choose well-lit and visible areas to lock your bike, and follow any local regulations or guidelines for bike parking.


Cycling in the City Exeter Reddit


“I’ve been exploring Exeter on my bike for a while now, and it’s been an absolute delight. The city’s cycling infrastructure is top-notch, with dedicated lanes and paths that make commuting and leisure rides a breeze. Not to mention the stunning scenery along the Exe Estuary Trail! I’ve met some fantastic fellow cyclists at local events, too. Cycling in Exeter has truly become an integral part of my daily life.”


“As someone new to Exeter, I can’t say enough good things about cycling here. The Exe Estuary Trail offers some of the most breathtaking views, and the city’s commitment to cycling is commendable. I’ve enjoyed discovering charming local spots and hidden gems on my bike, and the cycling community is incredibly welcoming. From the well-maintained routes to the cycling events, Exeter is a cyclist’s paradise.”

Overall, reviews of cycling in Exeter are predominantly positive. Cyclists in the area highly value the scenic routes, the convenience of the relatively flat terrain, and the city council’s substantial investment in cycling infrastructure. Many riders express their enthusiasm for exploring the city on two wheels, whether for daily commuting or leisurely rides.


Local cycling clubs in Exeter


Exeter has several local cycling clubs where enthusiasts can join group rides, participate in events, and connect with fellow riders. Here are a few notable cycling clubs in Exeter:

Exeter Wheelers Cycling Club: Established in 1922, Exeter Wheelers is one of the oldest cycling clubs in the area. They offer a range of group rides for various abilities, from beginners to experienced cyclists. The club organizes regular time trials, road races, and social events.

Exeter Cycling Club: Exeter Cycling Club is a friendly and inclusive club that welcomes riders of all levels. They host weekly club rides, time trials, and coaching sessions. The club is known for its community spirit and support for riders looking to improve their skills.

Exe Velo Cycling Club: Exe Velo is a community-focused cycling club based in Exmouth, just outside Exeter. They offer a range of rides, including road, mountain biking, and leisure rides. The club promotes a supportive and fun atmosphere for riders of all abilities.

Exeter University Cycling Club: For students and staff at the University of Exeter, the university’s cycling club is a great way to get involved in cycling. They organize ride training sessions and participate in races and events.

South West Road Runners: While not exclusively a cycling club, the South West Road Runners is a multisport club that includes cycling as one of its activities. They have regular cycling events and welcome members interested in cycling as well as running and triathlon.

Exmouth Wheelers Cycling Club: Located in nearby Exmouth, the Exmouth Wheelers is a cycling club with a strong community feel. They organize various rides and events for riders of different levels and interests.

These clubs offer a range of cycling experiences, from road racing to leisure rides and mountain biking. Joining a local cycling club is an excellent way to meet fellow cyclists, improve your skills, and discover new routes in and around Exeter. Check the respective club websites or contact them for information on membership and their current activities.


Final verdict


Cycling in Exeter is not just a mode of transportation; it’s a lifestyle. The city has rightfully earned its reputation as a cyclist’s paradise, and it’s easy to see why. With its exceptional cycling infrastructure, including traffic-free paths and dedicated lanes, riders of all levels can navigate the city with ease. The Exe Estuary Trail, offering breathtaking coastal views, is a highlight that never disappoints.

Exeter’s cycling community is welcoming and vibrant, with clubs and events for every interest. While the city is generally flat and compact, making it ideal for cycling, minor congestion and driver awareness issues exist.

Nevertheless, these challenges are far outweighed by the joys of cycling in a city committed to making cycling a part of everyday life. For those who appreciate scenic routes, a strong cycling culture, and an active community, Exeter is a two-wheeled haven.



Arjun Mertiya

Arjun Mertiya


Since Arjun was a young child, bikes have played a big part of his life. He races bikes, rides bikes and also loves writing about bikes. It’s always just been a way of life for Arjun and a passion that he loves to share with others..

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