50,000 turn out for Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle round Westminster

Bikes fill Mall, Green Park & Parliament Square

by Caroline Zwierzchowska-Dod   August 3, 2013  

FreeCycle

An estimated 50,000 riders of all ages, shapes and sizes filled the closed streets of central London today as part of  the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle, an eight mile circuit around some of London’s most famous landmarks.

From tots on trikes with stabilisers to vintage gents riding penny farthings, cyclists came from around the country to enjoy the motor-vehicle free lanes of the Embankment, passing St Paul’s and even along The Mall directly in front of Buckingham Palace. 

One of the riders Maddox Tanrien, a 46-year-old from Stratford, was interviewed by Prudential while on his long handle-barred white beach cruiser at Bank junction.

“I just fancied a day out riding without traffic,” said Tanrien, who works at Chelsea football club.

“I cycle every day but this is the first time I’ve done anything like this. I will definitely cycle the full eight-mile course. The freedom to go anywhere is brilliant because the traffic in London usually is horrible.”

The event, which opened the whole Prudential RideLondon weekend was extremely well managed, with lollipop ladies and men to help pedestrians across the roads being used and many stewards to ensure things went smoothly, as well as several festival zones where riders could chill out and refuel. road.cc saw a few children falling off their bikes, but all were well looked after and helmets and high-vis (despite the lack of lorries) were the order of the day.

For seven hours the riders were a testament to what a car-free London could be like and the crowds showed their appreciation in their cheering as the riders passed by.

The organisers of this inaugral event said: "The event will demonstrate that cycling can be fun and a great route to a healthy, active lifestyle as well as helping the environment."

The number of people on bikes who rode today certainly seems to show that given safe facilities, people will choose to take their whole family (and the dog, some in trailers, others in baskets) out by bike to enjoy the city.

21 user comments

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Would it be churlish to point out that in Amsterdam (pop. 880,000) they shift ten times the RideLondon figure, every day?

And that a multi-million-pound once-a-year novelty event full of Hi-Viz tabards (on a CLOSED ROAD? W-T-actual-F?) only re-enforces the stereotype that 'cycling' is a recreational thing for closed roads, on a weekend, in fancy dress?

Yeah probably. But you can't bargain with the truth that, more than ever, this highlights the dismal shape of cycling as regarded by those in power.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [732 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 18:59

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In the article you mention that helmets were order of the day.

After riding in the event, I can confirm that they most certainly were not.

And this is backed up by your own photos of which 2 photos are featuring riders without helmets, and the bottom photo contains 3 riders without helmets.

Standard policy for cycling events is (and should be) no helmet, no ride.

graeme_harrison's picture

posted by graeme_harrison [2 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 19:01

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KiwiMike wrote:

full of Hi-Viz tabards (on a CLOSED ROAD? W-T-actual-F?)

Have you thought that maybe people had to actually GET TO the event, on normal roads, where they might choose to wear what they want?

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [435 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 19:07

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graeme_harrison wrote:
Standard policy for cycling events is (and should be) no helmet, no ride.

Why should be?

From the event website...

"Consider wearing a helmet."

Peoples choice.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [435 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 19:09

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STATO wrote:

Why should be?

Safety

graeme_harrison's picture

posted by graeme_harrison [2 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 19:15

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graeme_harrison wrote:
STATO wrote:

Why should be?

Safety


Please don't derail comments on what is a great thing - a massive cycling event, right in the centre of the nation's capital, massively well attended - by starting the most tedious discussion in all of cycling.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [1099 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 20:42

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I totally agree

KiwiMike wrote:
Would it be churlish to point out that in Amsterdam (pop. 880,000) they shift ten times the RideLondon figure, every day?

And that a multi-million-pound once-a-year novelty event full of Hi-Viz tabards (on a CLOSED ROAD? W-T-actual-F?) only re-enforces the stereotype that 'cycling' is a recreational thing for closed roads, on a weekend, in fancy dress?

Yeah probably. But you can't bargain with the truth that, more than ever, this highlights the dismal shape of cycling as regarded by those in power.

posted by CyclingDan [39 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 20:43

11 Likes

Completely agree Graeme, we should be pro-safety and mandate helmets for everyone for practically any situation that meets or exceeds the risk of injury associated with bicycling. It has come to my attention that car drivers are more prone to injury and death than cyclists. It has been shown a helmet would significantly help all drivers minimise their risk of either outcome. As drivers are more at risk I think we should be fair and start mandating helmets there first. Please lobby your politicians and let me know how that goes.

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 20:47

8 Likes

So people are complaining that Hi-Vis was worn by many....Its LONDON, you need to be seen and I guess for many, they hung about after a day at work and took part in their everyday gear.

At the end of the day, it wasn't a sportive, with Lycra clad people wizzing around at high speed.

Also....Helmets for safety? Pull the other one.

All I am seeing on Twitter is moans and groans about the event Thinking

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9186 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 20:48

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Gizmo_ wrote:

Please don't derail comments on what is a great thing - a massive cycling event, right in the centre of the nation's capital, massively well attended - by starting the most tedious discussion in all of cycling.

Ditto. Take it to the Tea Stop.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 20:52

8 Likes

I rode the Sky Ride with a friend a while back. Big mistake.

This is a family friendly free-for-all, but it's not exactly great for purists. I don't know whether I think it is a good thing or a bad thing. It's a bit of a freak show. Hard to tell if does promote cycling when everyone has to cycle at the same as little Timmy on his trike (and his family riding four abreast). Hardly the advertisement for the freedom of cycling.

There's no need for Hi-Vis and helmets at this event as you're unlikely to get up any speed to do any damage (and on closed roads, the only other users are cyclists). I went to one of these things, never again.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1408 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 21:16

9 Likes

7 hours to ride 8 miles? it'd be quicker in traffic

posted by rocketdoguk [9 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 22:03

14 Likes

IT ALL MAKES ME SO ANGRY!! EVERYTHING!

Oh look, a little squirrel dressed in a mauve jerkin playing the ukulele.

SEE?? ANGRY.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc
@HOYvulpine

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [357 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 22:05

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You're weird....but you've touched God!

posted by LeDomestique [34 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 22:39

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Demonstration of suppressed demand. Pure and simple.

My wife and I went to the first Sky Ride. It was absolutely packed. Impossible to actually ride at any pace, or even (for many) in a straight line.

But it shows just how many people want to ride, and can't, given current conditions.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [592 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 23:16

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I rode this and it was lovely to see so many young kids and families out on bikes. If only central London was like this everyday our city would be a much better place.

I was pondering this as I rode home then I had a near miss on the Archway road, thanks to an impatient van driver. Back down to earth with a bump!

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [210 posts]
3rd August 2013 - 23:33

11 Likes

I went on this today.

Agreed that it was great to see so many kids and it is overwhelming evidence of suppressed demand (I saw many bikes that were covered in dust where they had obviously spent too much time hidden in the shed).

I have several complaints that also cover going into the evenings crit racing:

Why not just block off an area central london and let people ride around freely rather than herd people along roads in one direction, barking at them through megaphones and fencing everyone in?

The crit racing was pisspoorly organised. I was on the section of Horseguards parade just after the bend from Birdcage Walk and the stack involving about 6 or 7 including Team CTC's Tamina Oliver and Joanna Rowsell, and there were no medics positioned nearby (they came form near the finish) and the marshalls had absolutely no idea what they were doing. In fact, the ones near us just stood around smoking.

Why there were no medics placed around the course is astounding. Why they used minimum wage idiots stuffed into hiviz jackets rather than get all local cycling clubs involved to hep out with the marshalling, I'll never know.

Completely ill conceived, shabbily mismanaged, piss poor execution.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [625 posts]
4th August 2013 - 1:16

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This is awful. In the first year of organising a crit around one of the most secure and high profile locations in the world you should get it PERFECT.

I'm dreading hearing about Ride 100 tonight. Herding riders into flaming tar pits. Free chain tools not being provided every 10 metres that meant people had to walk to the next one. A little bird that pooed on an innocent women.

I never even knew I needed antidepressants until now.

Oh look, lots of people cycling! Big Grin

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc
@HOYvulpine

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [357 posts]
4th August 2013 - 7:48

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Well, we enjoyed it for what it was! A joyful event: Just as London marathon is an event. Yes it fits into campaigning for more sport funding but foremost it is about the event itself and it is somewhat unfair to compare directly a popular fun event to day-to-day needs, important as they are. If the marathon gets more people demanding that their MPs put more money put into sport, and it gets more people running, then that's great, but is not the main point.

Our fun...and several photos. Loved the shot of marshals having to chaperone a lorry along a bit of the route!
http://thejoyofcycling.org/joys/the-joy-of-ridelondons-freecycle-2013

We saw a couple crashes yes. People not cycling for the conditions mainly.
People fell over. People got up, and rode on.
No insurance claim, no body shop work, no police report, no court case, and probably just a scraped knee or so.

If this event gets more people cycling day to day, great. If it gets more people demanding #SpaceForCycling (join a protest ride 2nd September!) then great too.
If all it got was more people out for a nice day of seeing the sites, well then that is great too.
http://spaceforcycling.org/2013/07/25/monday-2nd-september-2013-ride-a-b...

AndrewRH's picture

posted by AndrewRH [52 posts]
4th August 2013 - 9:59

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These events are great for showing there's a demand for cycling, but it does show that we'd need a real attitude change, and people displaying a bit more courtesy and common sense before we could have a real cycling culture like Holland here.

That goes equally for the lycra-clad wannabe racers trying to speed around everyone, and the families riding five abreast across the circuit, oblivious to everything around them.

posted by dp24 [196 posts]
4th August 2013 - 22:56

9 Likes

We already have a traffic free part of London once a week but it lacks the connections to deliver the same effect as Ride London, and the preceding closures to motorised traffic for the Freewheel/Skyrides, le Tour (2007) and London 2012, and now the promise of a once a year opportunity to enjoy moving around Central London on foot on a bike, or just about any other non motorised form of transport.

London lags far behind when you note that Bogota has been doing this every Sunday for over 20 years.

It obviously has a huge potential to improve the utilisation of the Capital's transport infrastructure given that some of the city's train operators saw fit to restrict or even ban cycles from travelling on their, generally under used Sunday train services. Some operators however do demonstrate a greater willingness to deliver, most notably Greater Anglia, run by the Dutch National rail operator Abellio, who used a few of the substantial number of trains that sit idle on Sundays, and are needed solely for the few hours of mayhem that is the peak hour commute, and ran 4 12 carriage trains specially for cyclists on 21st July (London to Southend Bike ride Southend Victoria to Stratford express services) and 2 8 carriage trains on 28th July (London to Cambridge Bike ride Cambridge to Ponders End express services).

A monthly or even weekly opportunity to reprise Ride London, and give the widest population an opportunity to roam the parts of the city free from the intrusive presence of motor traffic is possible and relatively simple to deliver, using the fact that the Royal Parks and waterways of the capital provide an armature or core which can then connect adjacent streets, where the through traffic has a parallel route. Sunday trains in to London instead of carrying 20 passengers on a 250-seat 4 carriage unit (with the prospect of the newly ordered fixed formation 600 seat

So now we have once a week in a very small bit of London a mini RideLondon every Sunday, thanks to the CTC's Patron closing the roads serving her London house, and the almost convenient connections to Hyde Park, and the Thames Path/Upper Ground. With a bit of lobbying here's a suggestion which might be rather nice to try for every Sunday in Central London.

Close the North side of Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge, and since no exit from South end of Whitehall, close this off (traffic from Embankment would be sent to Trafalgar Square via Northumberland Avenue) South side of Parliament Square 2-way from Victoria Street to Millbank.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [530 posts]
7th August 2013 - 8:40

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