London Submits to Cycling
Exactly a year after hosting the highly successful 2012 Olympics the UK’s capital city hosted a whole weekend of cycling activities which closed much of the city centre to normal traffic.
Sponsored by Prudential and intended to encourage cycling in general and also to raise money for charity, the event was called simply ‘RideLondon’. Based in Green Park (home of Buckingham Palace) an 8mile (14km) one-way, closed-to-traffic route was set out for 50,000 cyclists to ride around in the Freecycle event all day on the Saturday. It included Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London before taking riders back along the River Thames to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
British Electric Bicycle Association
This was followed by criterium bicycle and hand-cycle racing in the early evening on the closed roads within Green Park while thousands lined the route or watched on a big screen. (Many cycling organisations also had marquees and stalls, including the British Electric Bicycle Association, who offered trial rides on a dozen different electrically-assisted machines).
On Sunday August 4th nearly 16,000 people of all ages, with all kinds of bikes, cycled for good causes around a hundred mile (160km) route similar to the one used for last year’s Olympic cycle race. Starting from 7am at the Olympic Park in London’s East End, they cycled via Richmond Park and Hampton Court, right down to the Surrey Hills and back via Kingston and Wimbledon. And all on closed roads!
London mayor Boris Johnson
Amongst many celebrity participants the London mayor himself, Boris Johnson, completed the route in eight hours. Upon finishing the ride, Johnson declared, “I am 18 and a half stone (117kgs) and if I can do it, anyone can!.” Later in the day, 150 professional cyclists rode an extended 120 mile version of the route, sprinting up the Mall to finish in front of Buckingham Palace.
The whole weekend has been declared a huge success and even on the first occasion looks set to become cycling’s equivalent of the hugely popular London Marathon, if not bigger. August 9th-10th 2014 has already been set aside for next year’s RideLondon event.