Boris Johnson says he will ask Transport for London to look at whether the capital could host car-free Sundays. The mayor was speaking after taking part in one such event today in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, and said he was “blown away” by its popularity.
Riding a Brompton with a bag attached to the front displaying a union flag design, Mr Johnson, who is on a six-day tour of south-east Asia, joined Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo on a mass bike ride, reports BBC News London.
Jakarta has hosted car-free Sundays for 16 years, with many of its streets closed to traffic from 6am and taken over by people on foot or on bikes. Initially they were held monthly, but now take part on a weekly basis.
Mr Johnson said afterwards: "Wasn't that sensational? I was blown away by the popularity of the car-free Sunday here."
He said he would ask TfL to look again at earlier proposals to introduce a car-free Sundays in parts of Central London, but acknowledged that implications for traffic would have to be taken into consideration.
"I think it would probably take time to bed in and it would take a few years before people got into the swing of coming out into the streets and making use of the space that a car-free Sunday provided," he said.
"We have been thinking about it for ages. I don't think you are going to get the British people out of bed at six in the morning to do it quite like that but it is certainly food for thought."
Since 2007, streets in Central London have been closed on one day a year for a mass participation bike ride in which up to 50,000 people take part.
Launched as the Hovis London Freewheel, Sky took over sponsorship from 2008 to 2011. Due to the city hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the event was not held that year.
During the past two years, a mass participation ride has been incorporated into the Prudential RideLondon weekend in August.
Bristol launched its first car-free Sundays last year as part of its Make Sundays Special initiative, with the city's mayor George Ferguson hailing the first such event as a huge success.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.