A service for cyclists is being held today in St James’s Church, Piccadilly, to bless people and their bikes and celebrate the gift of cycling.
The idea for the blessing, which takes place in a number of other churches around the world, including New York, came from a member of the church, many of whom cycle regularly in London.
The service, taking place today at 3pm, is open to those of all and no faiths, so long as they enjoy cycling. It will celebrate cycling and give thanks to those who improve road safety, as well as remembering those killed or injured on the roads.
Ivan Khovacs, church Curate and assistant minister at St James’s Church, told road.cc many church members are daily cycle commuters, one of whom, midwife Mary Stewart, came up with the idea.
He said: “The service is a way to give a blessing and an affirmation of the joy of cycling but acknowledging that cycling in London can be a little bit hairy and frightening at times, especially when you hear about another injury or fatality; we think, we hope that’s not going to be me, or when you have a close call in traffic.”
“[Cycling] is a gift of life, a gift of freedom and we want to thank God and the people who are making that a reality in London.”
Transport for London were among those he thanks for widening cycle lanes and building protected cycle superhighways in the city.
The service will begin with songs, accompanied by a ukulele orchestra and a trio of banjo, accordion and trumpet, with words of greeting, then water that has been blessed will be sprinkled on cyclists – and their bikes – with rosemary branches. Khovacs says it will be a fun and enjoyable event, and tea and coffee will be served.
St James’s is part of an association of Eco Churches aiming to reduce their carbon footprints and help protect the environment, and cycling is one way the church contributes to that ethos.
St James’s also holds an annual service for Road Peace, the national charity of road crash victims.