The Hovis London Freewheel was hailed a massive success by the Mayor of London after in excess of 38,000 cyclists of every age and ability took over the capital in a massive show of pedal power (Sunday 23 September).
In the largest mass participation cycle ride the capital has ever seen, tens of thousands of riders passed some of London’s most iconic sights such as Westminster, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace on a 14km route free of other traffic. Many riders cycled in from across London from six ‘Freewheel Hubs’ – local gathering points – being guided by more experienced cyclists.
A Freewheel Festival in St James’s Park also saw tens of thousands of people gather for a celebration of cycling which included a Hovis picnic, cycling acrobatics, a cycling circus and BMX, mountain and trail bike stunts.
The Mayor and Transport for London hope the Hovis London Freewheel will encourage more Londoners to cycle in the capital especially those who have a bike but use it infrequently. The number of cyclists on London’s major roads has grown by 83 per cent over the past seven years, but the Mayor wants to increase this even further. It is estimated that 40 per cent of Londoners have access to a bike, but only five per cent use one regularly.
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said: “The first Hovis London Freewheel has been an incredible success, with more than 38,000 cyclists taking over the capital. Tens of thousands of cyclists have enjoyed the unique experience of riding past some of London’s most famous sights on roads free of other traffic.
‘Today has been a highly visible endorsement for the growth of cycling in London. Record investment in training and facilities has seen cycling soar by 83 per cent since 2000 – more than any other city in Europe.
‘Cycling is good for you and good for the environment. Having taken part in the Hovis London Freewheel, I hope people will find that cycling regularly in London is easier than they thought. I have asked my staff to bring me an analysis of what worked this year and a proposal on a bigger event for next year.’
Jenny Jones, the Mayor’s Green Transport Advisor said: ‘This is the biggest celebration by London cyclists we have ever seen. It has been such a success that we will have to think seriously about making it much bigger next year, just to keep up with demand. This kind of event shows how London could become a healthier, less polluted city if this number of cyclists took to the streets in their local area on daily basis.’
Tim Dewey, Hovis, said: ‘We are delighted to be the lead sponsor of the first Hovis London Freewheel. At Hovis we are passionate about great tasting, wholesome food and an active lifestyle, which is why we are excited to be part of this event. People today have clearly had a great day.’