When you’re on a bicycle, the local environment has a big impact on your journey.

The sounds, the sights and the pollution can vary dramatically. And crucially, the street you’re on will affect how safe you feel.

One minute you can be gliding down a peaceful residential road, listening to some birdsong and hearing children chatter, the next, you’ll be in the middle of three lanes of traffic in full-on fight-or-flight mode.

In Haringey, just like everywhere else, we have a huge range of streets, and one is very close to my heart.

If you turn onto Wood Vale heading from Crouch End, you realise that it’s well-named.

Ahead of you is a beautiful forest and the road disappears up through it. You’re about to go through a veritable curtain of trees (and this is particularly exciting at night). Once you’re among the leaves, the street becomes Queens Wood Road. It’s also aptly named, as you now have Queen's Wood not only on both sides but above you too.

Ham & High: Carla Francome on her favourite cycling road in Haringey, Wood ValeCarla Francome on her favourite cycling road in Haringey, Wood Vale (Image: Carla Francome)


In summer, there is a full tree canopy over you – everywhere you look is wood and foliage. It’s beautiful and peaceful - you can hear birds singing and the leaves rustling - you’re cycling, but it feels like you’re actually in the forest.

Surrounding you is an ancient woodland that dates back to 1600, possibly even prehistoric times. Queen's Wood became a nature reserve in 1990 and is thought to be a direct descendant of the original “Wildwood”, that covered most of Britain around five thousand years ago.

It’s also a hill that requires some effort - it became an important part of my training regime when I prepared for a ride in the Alps.

But there is one thing in Queen's Wood Road that hasn’t improved the atmosphere, and that is the motor car. As I cycled up it yesterday, I saw three vehicles parked but with their engines still idling, people keeping warm while looking at their phones. I could taste the pollution, despite being surrounded by trees.

Every street in London is nicer to cycle on when there is less motor traffic. And Queen's Wood Road is no exception. Perhaps it’s time we treat pedestrians and those on cycles like royalty and reduce the cars around them.

  •  Carla Francome is a cycle campaigner and patron of the London Cycling Campaign (lcc.org.uk).