Chennai is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in India, and in recent years has improved even more in this regard. While ditching gas-powered transport in favour of cycles for commute has been a trend on the rise, the city is also home to several amazing and picturesque routes for recreational cycling. Here are some of the best cycling routes in Chennai that every cycling enthusiast should give a try.
With cafes and restaurants on one side and the wide and azure sea on the other, the Elliot’s Promenade in Besant Nagar is undoubtedly one of the best and most beautiful roads to cycle in Chennai. While it is a lot shorter than Marina Promenade, the Elliot’s Promenade features a number of great places to stop by for refreshing coffee or drinks while cycling. The most popular stretch for cycling along the promenade is from the Velankanni Church to the Besant Nagar Masjid.
One of the largest and most popular promenades in the whole, Chennai’s Marina Promenade is not only a great cultural identifier for the city but is also one of its best cycling routes. Stretching the whole length of the Marina Beach, the promenade even has a dedicated service road for walkers and cyclists. Cyclists often start from the Santhome Basilica, which is just south of the beach, and go all the way till Anna Square at the northern end of the beach.
Both Adyar and Besant Nagar are among the coolest and most picturesque neighbourhoods in Chennai. And it goes without saying that they are also home to some of the most popular cycling routes in Chennai. The most preferred route in the region is to cycle from Adyar to Besant Nagar through the Thiru Vi Ka Bridge, which leads across the Adyar River and is known for great sunset views. Apart from the bridge, the stretch leading from LB Road junction in Adyar to Besant Nagar through Besant Nagar 2nd Avenue is also a great cycling route and is particularly known for its green cover.
Chennai’s East Coast Road is without doubt one of the most scenic urban roads in the country and apart from being extremely popular for long drives, the highway is also a preferred route for cyclists. While the part of the highway located within the city has gotten congested in recent years, the stretch of the East Coast Road from Sholinganallur still boasts pretty empty and wide roads. However, the road doesn’t have a dedicated cycling track, so most cyclists prefer taking any of the several bylanes and roads between Sholinganallur and Akkarai that lead toward the sea.
Both Koyembedu and Anna Nagar Tower Park are extremely busy destinations in the evenings and are usually buzzing with commuters, hawkers, and local residents out for a stroll. However, in the wee hours of the day when the roads are near-empty, the stretch between Koyembedu and Anna Nagar Tower Park makes for one of the best cycling routes in the city. Passing through the busy Poonamallee High Road on to Anna Arch and Anna Nagar Second Avenue, the route ends at the picturesque Tower Park, which boasts dedicated cycling tracks.
Contrary to its reputation for being one of the busiest roads in Chennai, the OMR or Old Mahabalipuram Road in South Chennai is actually a cyclist’s paradise. Since the stretch of OMR within Chennai was planned and constructed quite recently, the highway features some of the widest service roads among arterial roads in the city. Coupled with the overall greenery of the areas it passes through such as Kasturi Bai Nagar and Taramani.
The old heritage district of Madras has always been a preferred region among cyclists primarily because of its wide and well-planned routes and the historical vibe. Of particular note in the old Madras part of Chennai for cyclists is the stretch leading from the iconic Parry’s Corner to the University of Madras campus through the historic Napier Bridge. The part of the route through Napier Bridge is also known for its picturesque views of the creek where Cooum River meets the Bay of Bengal.
While cycling on the roads has its own charm, zipping around enclosed green spaces too can be a great experience. Chennai has a number of sprawling green spaces with well-planned roads to support cycling such as the IIT Madras, the Theosophical Society International Headquarters in Adyar and even the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (Vandalur) Zoo. While the IIT Madras is closed to visitors and you’d need special permission to cycle inside as an outsider, the Vandalur Zoo campus even has its own cycle rental service so you don’t have to bring your own.