British Cycling and Transport for London (TfL) are to offer a huge increase in the number of free guided cycle rides across the capital in a bit to increase cycling across all sectors of the population.
Both parties have agreed to work together more closely to inspire more people to cycle and to promote enjoyable, safe and responsible cycling.
Cycling in London has grown rapidly, with TfL recording its highest levels of cycling activity during one period of four weeks in July/August.
Cyclist numbers were 20 per cent higher than the same period last year. On the Transport for London Road Network there has been a 173 per cent increase in cycling since 2001.
British Cycling and TfL will focus on helping new cyclists gain confidence by offering guided cycle rides in a group with a professional, trained leader.
The rides are designed as a follow-on from adult cycle training. The partnership will aim to triple this activity by offering almost 10,000 places on guided rides across London in 2014 and building on the 3,500 participants in 2013. The rides are suitable for people at all levels, from beginner to the more advanced.
British Cycling’s Director of Recreation and Partnerships, Stewart Kellett said: “British Cycling and Transport for London share the same goal of getting more people riding bikes and this partnership will help us to build on the progress of the last few years.
“Britain is now one of the most successful elite cycling nations in the world and almost seven million people in England are now regularly riding bikes for fun, for sport or as a form of transport. We want to use this inspiration to go even further.
“As a world leading governing body, we are in a great position to work alongside TfL to help build people’s confidence on the roads, introducing them to a new way of getting around the capital.”
Barclays Cycle Hire also hit a record for total hires in July with 1.18m hires. The scheme also had the busiest weekend ever during Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 August, as part of its fourth birthday celebrations, during which cycle hire was free.
The British Cycling and TfL partnership will also aim to encourage people from all backgrounds into cycling, including women, disabled cyclists and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. It is expected that British Cycling’s diverse membership will allow TfL to reach a greater number of groups traditionally under-represented in cycling as well as more experienced club cyclists.
Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, said: “We are looking forward to working even more closely with British Cycling over the coming years. We’ve already worked together on some fantastic events and we are pleased to be pooling our expertise to inspire more people to start cycling.
“This cementing of our relationship comes at a time when we are seeing more and more people using pedal power in London on some of our main roads, with the highest levels of cycling activity ever recorded on our roads.”
Free or subsidised adult cycle training is available in almost all London boroughs. Click here for more info.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.