The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today joined Sky Sports News presenter Georgie Thompson and cyclists from across London to launch the Capital’s Summer of Cycling, which aims to encourage more Londoners to take to their bikes.
The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) will be promoting cycling throughout the coming months, through innovative events and the ongoing “You’re better off by bike” campaign. The aims of this campaign are to encourage existing cyclists to use their bikes more regularly, and promote cycling to the estimated 1.1 million Londoners who have access to bikes but don’t use them.
On September 7th, the Tour of Britain, supported by TfL, will bring the spectacle of professional cycling back to the capital following the success of last year’s Tour de France Grand Depart.
Two weeks later, Londoners of all ages and cycling abilities will get their chance to experience the joys of cycling themselves when the Summer of Cycling culminates in the hugely popular Sky Sports London Freewheel event on 21st September. At this year’s event, participants will enjoy a carnival atmosphere and views of some of the Capital’s most spectacular landmarks as they bike along a car-free central route past the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
The Summer of Cycling launch comes as TfL releases new figures showing that while one in three people in the capital have access to bicycles, only half of these have actually used a bike in the past 12 months. That means that over a million Londoners have left their bikes to gather dust over the past year.
Launching the summer cycling campaign, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “While there’s already been a healthy increase in the number of people on bikes, half of Londoners who own a bike aren’t using them regularly, and over a million Londoners are still missing out on the benefits of cycling. I’m challenging all Londoners who have bicycles languishing in the shed or garage to dig them out, dust off the cobwebs and re-acquaint themselves with one of the most glorious ways of getting about.
“There are so many reasons to dust off your bike this summer – it’s a great way to get fit, it saves you money, and it’s good for the environment. For those who are still not convinced, we are laying on the Sky Sports London Freewheel on September 21st – closing the roads of central London to allow Londoners of all ages, backgrounds and cycling abilities the chance to enjoy our fantastic city by bike. What could be nicer than feeling the wind on your face as you zip past some of London’s most famous landmarks, completely undisturbed by traffic.”
Janis Tjarve, a bike maintenance expert from The Bike Doctor, has advice for Londoners dusting off a ‘dormant bike’. He said: “If you’re going to use a bike that’s been out of action for some time, there are a few quick and easy checks you should make. Ensure that your tyres are pumped up to the right pressure – this is the BAR or PSI measure on the side of the tire. Check that your brakes are lined up and working properly. Make sure that the stem and saddle are tightly bolted and at the right height. Your leg should be almost fully extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Finally, test that the gears are working and that the chain is well oiled.”
To further develop cycling in the capital, the Mayor and TfL are investing a further £55 million in cycling this year – up from £36m last year. The money is being invested in cycle routes, cycle parking facilities, a bike hire scheme to make cycling accessible to all, education, adult and child cycle training and cycling events.
For further information about cycling, including cycle training, bike maintenance advice and cycle maps, visit www.tfl.gov.uk.
Sky Sports London Freewheel
To find out more about the Sky Sports London Freewheel, and to register for the event, visit: www.londonfreewheel.com. The event is free and open to everyone, but participants must register in order to take part.
This year’s Freewheel will include 20 local led rides, supported by the London Cycling Campaign, which will offer less confident cyclists the chance to be escorted by experienced riders as they make their way from the outer boroughs to four main hubs at parks across London, and then on to the central London route.
The four hubs will act as meeting points for local cyclists to congregate and join led rides into the central route, and will be located at Highbury Fields in north London, Clapham Common in South London, Victoria Park in east London, and Ravenscourt Park in west London.
Signposted routes will guide cyclists to the car-free central London zone and support marshals will be present at key junctions from the hub to the central route.
There will be roving entertainment along the route, including mobile music, cycling angels, jugglers and others.
Rest areas on the route, which will include toilet facilities and information points, will allow riders the chance to take a breather.
A shorter route for those less able to complete the whole route will be made available. To complete the London Freewheel, cyclists will be directed home from the central London route on the same route used to some in. Event hubs will remain open until 6:30pm to allow participants to stop off on their way home.
The 2007 event saw more than 38,000 bikes descending on the city’s streets for the day. Cyclists enjoyed an afternoon of entertainment, picnics, stalls and cycling. We hope that this year’s event will be even better.
Tour of Britain
The ‘Grand depart’ of the Tour of Britain will see 16 teams of elite riders racing around the capital on the first stage of the ‘tour’. The race returns to London for the first time since 2006 and will use a new circuit based on Victoria Embankment which incorporates some of London’s most famous landmarks including Big Ben and the Tower of London.
The opening stage of the race will cover 10 laps of the new circuit as the riders battle it out to see who will wear the first leaders Yellow Jersey in the 2008 race. The tour comprises of eight stages based throughout England and Scotland.