London to be a “paradise for cycling” says Boris Johnson
31 Jul 2013, 3:59 p.m.
London will be transformed into a “paradise for cycling” thanks to the Prudential RideLondon festival this weekend, according to Mayor of London Boris Johnson who will be riding the mass-participation “100-mile marathon challenge” on Sunday morning.
Johnson is one of around 20,000 riders taking on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive, one of four events that make up the Mayor of London’s Prudential RideLondon festival set to lure some 70,000 cyclists onto the roads of London and Surrey over two days.
“We want to turn London into a paradise for cycling,” said Johnson. “We hope to see huge numbers of people doing the 100-mile cycling marathon, the largest ever inaugural mass-participation event in the world.
“Prudential RideLondon will be another great sporting event for our city, our capital and our country. It shows that London is in the lead in delivering cycling events.”
Johnson will be riding as part of the 37-strong ‘Team Boris’ aiming to raise £25,000 for his three Charities, the Mayor’s Fund for London, the Mayor’s Fund for Young Musicians and The Legacy List, all of whom seek to develop talent throughout the capital through diverse projects – all with the aim of supporting and nurturing skills and creating a city that encourages youngsters and organisations to prosper.
Johnson revealed he has already ridden part of the beautiful but testing 100-mile route during his training, including the two lung-busting Surrey climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill.
“I am fairly confident I can get round, but how fast I can do it is another matter,” said Johnson. “I have been up Leith Hill forwards and backwards, up and down, and Box Hill no problem.
“But I want to manage expectations downwards a bit. I’m sure I can do it, but I’m not sure how quickly I can do it. I’m a pretty cautious London cyclist, not a speed merchant. The chiselled whippet is yet to emerge.”
The weekend's events also include the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle on Saturday morning, when 50,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities are expected to fill eight miles of traffic-free streets in central London, plus two events for professional riders – the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix criterium races around St James’s Park on Saturday evening and the Prudential RideLondon Classic, a 140-mile men’s road race, on Sunday afternoon.
As one of the capital’s Olympic legacy projects, Johnson described the Prudential RideLondon festival as an integral part of his cycling vision for London.
“We are determined to make cycling a normal part of life in London,” he said. “Lots of London boroughs have come up with imaginative schemes for cycling, which we want to support. We want to create mini-Hollands all over the capital.
“We’re investing £913 million pounds in cycle lanes and road junctions. We need to create a new kind of confidence in cyclists. So we need to educate, not just cyclists, but motorists too.
“We don’t have enough road space in London to give over just to cyclists, so unless we start with a programme of interventions then we can’t flip the switch in people’s minds.”
Prudential RideLondon will help to 'flip the switch' in Surrey too, according to the county council's cabinet member for community services, Helyn Clack.
“We are encouraging more and more cycling in Surrey and we have a Cycle SMART strategy to get people out on their bikes,” said Clack. “We had the Olympic cycling races in Surrey, which were momentous, and an aim of the Games was to change lives so when Boris said to us 'let's do it again', we said, 'let's go for it'.”
With so many roads closed to traffic, and 70,000 cyclists due to ride through the capital this weekend, participants and spectators are being urged to plan their routes to and from the event with extra care.
“It’s going to be a great event with many opportunities for people to watch as the events come through your local area,” said Prudential RideLondon Event Director Hugh Brasher.
“It’s the biggest mass-participation cycling event ever to take place within the UK so even if you’re not taking part you may be affected by the route – take a look on the website to see where the routes go.”