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Bling up your bike for the Leeds Space for Cycling Big Ride this Saturday

Get on your bike and call for better cycling in the Motorway City of the Seventies

This Saturday, May 17, will see thousands of people take to the streets in five of Britain’s major cities to call for safe space for cycling. The Leeds Big Bike Ride will start at 12 noon in Millennium Square, in front of Leeds’ rather splendid Civid Hall.

The national Space for Cycling Big Ride, also happening in London, Newcastle, Manchester and Sheffield asks for local and national government to make cycling safe and inviting for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

Bling up

The Leeds ride will be guided by experienced marshals and will take in a circuit of the city centre followed by a three-mile ride to Kirkstall Abbey for a picnic. Leeds Cycling Campaign says everyone is welcome to take part and participants are encouraged to ‘bling up’ their bikes.

Lizzie Reather, Chair of Leeds Cycling Campaign, said: “Although Leeds City Council has made some bold statements on cycling, the roads still aren’t inviting to the vast majority of people. The Space for Cycling campaign shows that there are lots of people who want to ride bikes, and we need to make the roads and streets appealing rather than offputting.

“This isn’t just about cycling. If we want to create a more liveable city, with safer streets, better air quality and a more inviting environment, bicycles are part of the solution. We need a real transformation in how we think about the city.”

Stuck in the seventies?

Leeds is often accused of still implementing transport policy as if operating according to its old slogan ‘The motorway city of the seventies’.

Former cycling campaigners have accused the council of promising scheme after scheme to improve the situation for bike riders in the city, but delivering little or nothing. And what little that has been delivered is rendered useless by lack of enforcement of, for example, double yellow lines to prevent parking in bike lanes.

That’s still a problem, according to Reather, who told Leeds-list.com in a 2013 interview: “A facility that can’t be used is worse than no facility at all.”

Reather recently told road.cc that she is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for cycling in Leeds. But she adds: “Several recent examples (Chapeltown Road, Cookridge St) show the council has a lot to learn - still limited understanding of cyclists' needs.”

Space for cycling priorities

The Space for Cycling campaign calls on local government to create a safe and attractive environment by implementing the six S4C priorities:

  • Protected space on main roads
  • Removing through motor traffic in residential areas
  • Lower speed limits
  • Cycle-friendly town centres
  • Safe routes to school
  • Routes through parks and green spaces

Space for Cycling rides are taking place across the country. For more details of the campaign see Space4Cycling.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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