An estimated 38,000 cyclists will descend on London on Sunday as the city is handed over to bikes for the day.
The first London Freewheel will see cars banned from the centre of the UK capital, for a celebration of all things two-wheeled. It will be the biggest mass ride the capital has ever seen.
On the day riders from all over the city will meet at one of half a dozen “hubs” and then pedal together along guided ways into the heart of London, which will be closed to motorised traffic. The car-free route dreamt up for the event will take them past landmarks including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Some 14km of roads will be closed, while the ride in from the hubs will be accompanied by members of the London Cycling Campaign, which is still recruiting marshals for the event.
A Transport for London spokesman said, “With 38,000 people now registered to take part in the Hovis London Freewheel, the event has now reached planned capacity. There has been a limit on the numbers of registrations in order for the event to run safely and smoothly.”
The ride was thought up by London mayor Ken Livingstone as part of his continued push to encourage cycle commuting in the capital. Although cycling in the city has increased by 83 per cent in the past seven years, still only two per cent of journeys in London are made by bike.
Mr Livingstone is not the only mayor to be working on improving life for cyclists. After the success of Paris’ bike rental scheme Velib, which has seen a massive 3.7million rides in its first two months, city leaders around the world are getting on the cycling bandwagon. Paris’ mayor Bertrand Delanoe had been derided for his plans but the success of the Velib project has seen Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley talking about a similar idea for the Windy City.
Back in London Mr Livingstone has ordered a consultation on a rental scheme for the Big Smoke. And in Washington DC, the city’s own mayor Adrian Fenty could soon be giving up his parking space for bike racks. In Minneapolis mayor RT Rybak joined a mass ride last weekend which saw 4,500 cyclists follow a traffic-free route.
It’s not clear whether Ken Livingstone will be taking to two wheels on Sunday, as despite pushing the two-wheeled agenda he famously doesn’t cycle.
– There will be six entry points onto the Freewheel route, at Clapham Common, Ravenscourt Park, Gladstone Park, Finsbury Park, Victoria Park and Peckham Rye.
– Roads in the Royal Parks, the City of Westminster, the City of London and the London Borough of Southwark will all be shut. Cyclists will have free rein from 9am to 4pm, with the affected roads remaining closed to all traffic until 6pm. St James’s Park, which will host the first Freewheel Festival, will be shut to traffic from 6am to midnight.
– The circular route for the Freewheel will begin at: Birdcage Walk, Buckingham Gate, The Mall, Horse Guards Road, Great George Street, Parliament Street, Whitehall, Horse Guards Avenue, Victoria Embankment, Arthur Street, Monument Street, King William Street, Fish Street Hill, Victoria Embankment, Horse Guards Avenue, Whitehall, Parliament Square, Great George Street and finishing back at Birdcage Walk.
– To find out more about road closures and bus diversions on the day click here or call +44 (0)207 2221234.
BikeRadar will be at the Freewheel so check back on Monday for our full report.