SkyRiding

Yesterday was the London SkyRide (previously known as the Hovis Freewheel, when it had a different sponsor obv). I must say I enjoyed it. Having the chance to cycle through central London without traffic (except, worryingly, the odd ambulance being let through) was a great experience. I’d never ever voluntarily cycle along the Embankment north of the Thames when traffic’s using it – it’s like the M6 at rush hour, but moving faster.

Even had chance to take some photos:

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Dave Hill at Guardian.co.uk today posted on the Skyride:

I went with my seven-year-old daughter, a child whose bike-riding displays a confidence her competence does not always justify. We arrived at around 10.30, soon after the start, and joined the route at its most easterly point, Tower Hill. The first 15 minutes were revelatory: a spin into blissful, if remote, urban possibility.

Did it last? To find out, read on. After that, try Cycling Weekly suggesting that Sky should run the railways too, and Real Cycling which was uneasy with the “implied message that cycling round London can only be done once a year with the help of heavy sponsorship, police cooperation and road closures.” Then there’s photos and anecdotes from blogger Richard Lartey, videos collected by Vinny, and a Guardian photstream. And finally, a Tunnel Bore. (see Dave’s post for all links)

Some food for thought. In Bogota, Colombia they basically do this every single Sunday. Every Sunday until 2pm one of the main traffic thoroughfares is closed off and people can cycle, run and rollerblade as they please. It’s called Ciclovía.

It’s an accepted part of Bogota life that it’s just a little more difficult to get around on Sundays (I know this because the road happens to lead to one of the City’s major hospitals and getting home from there early one Sunday after breaking my ankle salsa dancing the night before (don’t ask) was a nightmare – they wouldn’t let any taxis through to the hospital). Nevertheless it’s a brilliant experience and one many people take the opportunity to participate in.

In London we have the embankment north of the Thames from Westminster to the Tower – who on earth needs to use this on a Sunday? Why not close it off every Sunday (or at least once a month) and encourage people to get out and enjoy cycling along this road that the rest of the week is stuffed with cars and shrouded in smog? If the Colombians can do it, surely we can too, and not just once a year with massive sponsorship, police roadblocks and tunnel boom boxes.

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