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Liverpool’s identity is rooted in its location on the Mersey Estuary.

Plans for a 600km active travel network could give Merseyside residents something previously only listed on a Beatles LP: a Ticket to Ride 

Liverpools identity is rooted in its location on the Mersey Estuary. With access to the Irish Sea and beyond, it became one of the worlds busiest and most important ports: ocean liners departed; ships arrived with cargo and people from countries afar. The ferry across the Mersey was celebrated in Gerry and the Pacemakers’ hit song from the Sixties, a time when Merseybeat bands made it the centre of the musical world. And the estuary itself gives Liverpool bigger horizons, a feeling of openness, that cities inland often lack.    

Liverpools history tracks the same economic trends as other northern cities: Victorian and Edwardian grandeur; postwar decline; industrial decimation; and finally renaissance. But its peaks and troughs are steeper. Liverpools wealth once vied with Londons, which accounts for iconic architecture such the Three Graces (the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building) and the fact that the city has more museums and galleries than any UK city except London. Yet by the late Seventies and Eighties its unemployment rate was among the countrys worst.  

Since the mid-Nineties theres been regeneration. As well as boosting tourism – Liverpool is one of the Britains most visited cities – the urban landscape is slowly changing to facilitate cycling and walking. The City Council aims to make Liverpool the fastest growing city for cycling” in the UK. Plans are underway for a 600km MetroActive Network of cycling and walking routes across the city region.  

The best type of bike for cycling in Liverpool 

Away from the waterfront, Liverpool is hillier than youd think. While the hills arent big or steep, youll likely want some gears on your bike. A 1x setup, with a single front chainring and a rear derailleur, is sufficient, as is a wide-range hub gear, but dont discount bikes with front derailleurs. 

Liverpool hills

Mudguards are essential. Being on the west coast, Liverpool has more rainy days than the already soggy UK average: all months typically see 10-15 days with some rain, and the city just squeezes into the UKs top ten wettest. This dampness makes disc brakes useful for year-round commuters, as they work more consistently in the rain. Since you wont be screaming down steep hills, however, you can readily get by with decent rim brakes. 

In some cities you need a folding bike to take advantage of public transport. Not so in Liverpool: conventional bikes are welcome, free of charge, on Merseyrail trains and the ferries. A hybrid is thus a better choice for getting around Liverpool.  

Which one to choose depends on how much you want to spend. With an RRP of £399, the BTwin Elops Hoprider 100 is excellent value for money. It comes with key accessories for commuting and recreational cycling: mudguards, rack, and dynamo lighting.  

The Giant Escape 2 City Disc (RRP £649) is lighter and has nicer components, such as a better quality 2x8 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, but misses out on dynamo lighting. Both the BTwin and Giant are available with step-through frames; the Giant’ is called the Liv Alight 2 City Disc.  

Liverpools transport network 

Liverpools proposed cycling network is pleasingly ambitious: 600km of routes on segregated cycle tracks and quiet streets that reflect cyclists’ ‘desire lines’ (the journeys cyclists make and want to make) and that join up with public transport. Thats so much better for cycle commuters and other transport cyclists than meandering recreational routes. It is, of course, a work in progress. You can download current cycling maps of the areas that make up the Liverpool City Region from the Merseytravel website. 

Liverpool has a modestly sized cycle hire network, citybike, which has both e-bikes and conventional bikes. Once youve registered you can rent them on a pay-as-you-go basis (25p per 15 min or £10 day for a conventional bike, twice that for an e-bike) or through an annual fee (£60 for pedal bikes, £90 e-bikes). The rental bikes are mostly clustered around the city centre 

Liverpool Citybike

Merseyrails urban train network is the busiest outside London. It includes underground stations in central Liverpool and Birkenhead and overland stations in towns and suburbs throughout the Wirral Peninsula and northwards to Southport and Ormskirk. All Merseyrail trains carry bikes (designated areas only) for free, without a reservation, though you may be asked to wait for the next train at busy times or prohibited when special events are on. Cycle parking facilities at stations are much better than most: theyre under cover, have CCTV, and are accessed by a security fob.  

Mainline rail connections are good to other English cities but cycle carriage varies by operator. The National Rail website ( details. When you plan a route online and select a journey, hover your mouse over the bicycle icon (under Additional info) to read bike carriage restrictions. The National Rail app includes similar info under Travelling with bicycle 

Mersey Ferries carry bikes for free, without a reservation. They advertise having plenty of space on the low deck for bikes.”  

Buses in Liverpool are operated by Arriva and Stagecoach. Most services only carry folding bikes, and only if theyre bagged. Stagecoach coaches (as opposed to buses) generally carry full-size bikes in the luggage compartment, albeit at the owners risk. 

Local rides in Liverpool 

Some of the best views of the city, and of Birkenhead across the Mersey, can be had from the traffic-free cycle tracks on the waterfront. Sustrans NCN Route 56 runs on both sides of the estuary: between Liverpool Festival Gardens and the Liver Building on the east bank, and from Seacombe to New Brighton on the west bank. Keep going from New Brighton and you can join up with NCN Route 89 to explore the other side of the Wirral Peninsula.  

The mostly traffic-free Trans Pennine Trail starts north of Liverpool in Southport. It goes all the way across the country to Hornsea, near Hull, but can be ridden in short sections for days out. Southport is about 20 miles away and you could make the return journey by Merseyrail train. Another good long-distance route is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath. An off-road capable bike is best for that.  

Trans Pennine Trail

Liverpool itself has few options for mountain biking but theres a pump track in Everton Park and a BMX track in Huyton. North Wales is close enough for transport-assisted weekend mountain bike rides. Road cyclists may also want to head that way; the Wirral and north Cheshire are also in easy reach. 

Keeping your bike secure in Liverpool 

Liverpool is only a little worse than average for reported bike thefts in England and Wales. Its comparable to cities such as Cardiff and Hull as opposed to hotspots like London and Cambridge. Thefts are highest in the city centre area in general, but it pays to take precautions wherever you park your bike. 

Always lock your bike whenever you turn your back on it, ideally with a Sold Secure Gold rated lock. Lock the bike through the frame to a sturdy piece of street furniture or a dedicated cycle stand. If you have a high value bike or will be leaving it locked up for an extended period – for example, overnight – use two locks. 

The vast majority of bike thefts take place not on the street but in semi-private’ locations at home. That means on your property but not in the house – for example, a garage, shed or garden. Lock your bike to a wall or ground anchor if it will be in one of those locations. Alternatively, park it indoors. 

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