One of my favourite places in London is not just a fantastic place to pick up fabulous local produce and do a spot of people watching, Broadway Market, (map) is also a real cycle haven in the city. A friend of mine recently told me that he feels like he is in Europe every time he goes there, but to me this is somewhat missing the point - it's right here, in London, and is just as successful and real a cycling hub as anywhere on the continent.
On market day, Saturday, you'll be hard pressed to find a space to lock up your bike and you'll see bikes chained to railings two or three deep, or diagonally in order for as many to be accommodated as possible - busy bike racks are a sure sign of strong cycling culture in my opinion. The Regent's Canal - that green and blue strip of calm that ribbons through north west to north east London, gently burbles right past the market and the tow-path is often a clatter of "ting tings"' as cyclists announce their presence beneath narrow canal bridges. Above the canal bridge the fabulous Lock 7 bicycle cafe offers a unique space where you can sup good quality coffee sitting in the sun while the friendly, if not rather busy, staff fix your bike in their cafe workshop - surely the only cafe of it's kind in London? (Indeed, it even aroused the interest of Copenhagenize blogger Mikael Colville-Anderson on his visit to Hackney and he has some great pictures of the cafe)
On the market itself there is something for everyone - from fresh fruit to homemade cakes, and stalls where you can find a good quality butcher, fishmonger and more. The surrounding stores range from a proper old fashioned East End pie and mash shop (don't ask for a knife to eat with your fork, they'll just look at you funny, but it's yum all the same) to vinyl record stores and book shops - everything you need for lazy weekend shopping and quality retail indulgence (and it beats going to Westfield, that's for sure).
Bikes of all shapes and sizes, people of all shapes and sizes, all just doing their thing. And there is also some seriously quite competitive cycle chic going on here; but it makes a welcome change from the perceived 'lycra lout' image we usually associate with cycling here in London. Hackney, the local borough for Broadway Market, has an 8% modal share of trips by bicycle (in comparison to Greater London's somewhat lacking 2%) and the highest cycling commuting rates in the country. I like to think of the corner of Broadway Market and Lock 7 cafe as being a truly exemplary cycle haven here in London and hope that the effect on the cycle culture here will radiate outwards till everywhere in our great capital one day looks like this.