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Boris Johnson to consider car-free Sundays for Central London

City's mayor "blown away" after riding bike in similar event in Indonesia's capital Jakarta...

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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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