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March 04, 2020 5 min read


We are excited to release the first in our series of British Cycling member insights - Smooth Rides.

Are you one of the thousands of British Cycling members who are staying extra visible on the roads with See.Sense lights? Are you regularly connecting to the See.Sense app, contributing your Ride Insights? If the answer is YES, then we would like to say a huge thank you to you. Not only are you helping us map your town or city in greater depth, but you are also improving the chances that your own future rides are improved. That's exactly why we are starting this series.

See.Sense lights react to your environment on the road, keeping you extra visible at times you need to be seen. And when connected to our app, the lights also detect where you swerve, hit the brakes suddenly, and hit potholes; all things that negatively impact your experience. 

Is there anything better than cycling along a smooth road with a high-quality surface? (Nerdy, we know, but a smooth road surface is a cyclist's best friend). So we thought we would start this insight series on a positive note and highlight the places that have some of the BEST road surfaces in the UK, all thanks to British Cycling members and See.Sense customers.

Pavement Condition Index

Pavement Condition reporting for cyclists is ordinarily undertaken through visual inspections. A large engineering firm, AECOM, showed how the See.Sense data has a a high correlation with visual inspections and a link to the PCI rating scale. Applying our proprietary SSRI (See.Sense Roughness Index) scale, we can identify the road roughness experienced by a cyclist. Scores of 85-100 are considered a good or 'smooth' rating. So for our analysis we have used the percentage of road in each city that are rated 85 and up. Learn more about SSRI and how we have used this measurement of road surface quality before here.

The Results

The results have been taken from aggregated members insights that have been collected over a 12 month period using patented technology inside See.Sense lights to measure the road surface. We also realise that featuring the best roads might seem like we are looking at things with rose-tinted glasses, so we WILL be featuring the worst roads soon where we know we need to campaign to improve cycling conditions. Watch this space.

In the coming weeks we will talk more about each city in this list in a bit more detail. In this (the first) piece we will talk about the number 1 city in detail.

So, keep reading to find out what it is! But for now, let's start with the first...

5 - Birmingham

SSRI Index: 52% of journeys on PCI greater than 85

4 - Glasgow

SSRI Index: 58% of journeys on PCI greater than 85

3 - Edinburgh

SSRI Index: 61% of journeys on PCI greater than 85

2 - Manchester

SSRI Index: 64% of journeys on PCI greater than 85

1- London

SSRI Index: 68% of journeys on PCI greater than 85

Cycling around London is a great way to save money on transport costs and get some exercise at the same time. If you've been to the home of Big Ben recently then you'll not have missed the cyclists. 

Huge improvements have been made to London's cycling network over the last few years, with more cycle lanes and superhighways, so our number one and gold medal for road surfaces might not come as a shock to you. Kudos to London, but they do keep going.

London does have some ambitious objectives for cycling which is good to see, including increasing the number of protected cycle routes to 450km by 2024, and reducing the number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities to zero by 2041. An ambitious target, but why not stay positive and aim high?

We said we'd talk about the no1 city in more detail... so here we go! The above image shows See.Sense data taken from 200 cyclists in the city of London.  Obviously, route popularity and infrastructure comes into it massively when we are looking at where people cycle in a city. Some more insights on that in the image below...



  • Yellow: indicates highly popular routes (density of journeys)
  • Darker purple:  indicates the slightly less popular journeys taken from the insights. Again this sample is taken from the 200 cyclists in London to give you some idea of numbers.

This time, the colours represent speed:

  • Dark Red: 0-05mph
  • Orange: 05-10mph
  • Amber: 10-15mph
  • Yellow: 15-20mph
  • Light Green: 20-25mph
  • Dark Green: 25-30mph

As you can see from the three bridges, speeds are nice and fast!

Looking at the London bridge crossings, we can also see that:

  1. Blackfriars sees slower speeds recorded at each end of the bridge with northbound traffic light tailback evident in the data. Blackfriars Bridge has a mandatory cycle lane on one side and a non-mandatory on the other. Neither are segregated, but both are buffered from a general traffic lane by bus lanes.

  2. Southwark records slower speeds potentially due to relatively narrow segregated lanes. Southwark is cycle-friendly, with fully curbed segregated cycle lanes with gaps if you need to leave.

  3. London Bridge has a clear distinction between the speed of northbound cycle traffic compared to southbound - potentially due to AM congestion. 

Build it and they will cycle? The Part Infrastructure Plays In Cycling

See.Sense lights also record See.Sense Movement Measure (SSMM) data which highlights variances in lateral movement, indicative of cyclists swerving i.e filtering through traffic, avoid obstacles etc. So here, the deeper the purple, the lower the SSMM reading which is good, (less swerving and sudden movements).

You can see that Southwark Bridge (1) has dedicated cycle lanes and our data shows fewer bumps and swerving on the lane, compared to London Bridge (2), where cyclists travel in a shared bus lane which is interesting to see.

London Summary

We do hope you found this piece interesting and something a little bit different, we are looking forward to featuring more cities and of course more insightful stats about your rides. So again we would like to say a thank you to all of the British Cycling members who are riding around with See.Sense lights and opted into insights. You are helping the case for cycling where your ride.



While these are the top 5 cities with some of the best roads, there are still hundreds of towns and cities out there where we know that major investment and campaigning is needed. Keep an eye on the rest of this series to understand more about the state of cycling in the UK.


Did You Know?

Road surface is the second greatest hazard faced by British Cycling members - more about this here.

Not Just A Bike Light

It's not just about the city insights. If you own a See.Sense product and have joined our community through our mobile app, you’ll see some unique and fun stats about your own rides too. These include:

  • The distance you've cycled
  • The calories you've burned
  • How much CO2 you’ve saved by cycling
  • More unique and fun stats.

So, how does your city compare? We hope you enjoyed the first of our insight series. What would you like to see next? The worst road surfaces? The cities with the fastest cyclists? Or even if its something else, let us know.


Remember, all British Cycling members get 30% off See.Sense lights. Log into your members area for access.