Mayor of London's Sky Ride

Mayor of London's Sky Ride
Map of the 2009 route

The Mayor of London's Sky Ride (generally trademarked and referred as Skyride) is a major cycling event in London, England, aimed at cyclists of every age and ability. Originally inaugurated in 2007 as the London Freewheel, it was renamed in 2009 as the Mayor of London's Skyride following a multi-year sponsorship deal between Sky Sports and the Mayor of London, and again as Mayor of London's Sky Ride in 2010.

In 2009 a smaller, local event in outer London was added; this took place in Hounslow on Sunday August 9.[1] For 2010, a total of three rides on streets free of motor traffic were announced in January, with the locations being confirmed later as the city centre, Ealing and Redbridge.

Since at least 50,000 were estimated to have taken part in both 2007 and 2008, the central route for 2009 was extended to increase capacity. The route passes some of London's most famous landmarks along Victoria Embankment, and the 2009 ride was expanded to include a new loop through the City of London. The number taking part in the main ride peaked at 80,000 in 2010.[2]



Cycling in London grew by 83 per cent from 2000 to 2007.[3] It is estimated that 40 per cent of Londoners have access to a bike, but only five per cent use one regularly.[citation needed]

The Mayor of London and Transport for London increased investment in cycling from just £5.5 million in 2000 to £36 million in 2007/08. This money is being spent on improved cycle parking facilities, education and training, events and cycle promotion. 500 km of the London Cycle Network Plus - a network of signed routes for cyclists across the capital - had been completed by 2007.[3] Transport for London has installed 10,000 cycling parking spaces across the capital in the past two years.

The London Freewheel was the brainchild of David Love, vice-chair of London Cycling Campaign, inspired by riding in the Cape Argus Cycle Race in 2001.[4] TFL promoted it with the goal of giving more people a chance to discover cycling as both fun and efficient.[3]

Past rides

2007 (The Hovis London Freewheel)

Cyclists of all ages together on the route, passing St. James's Park

The inaugural 'Hovis London Freewheel' was developed by the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) to encourage and increase cycling participation, and promote cycling as a form of transport within London. The event was launched at City Hall on 26 June 2007 by the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, Konnie Huq and Tim Dewey, Marketing Director for the event's sponsor Hovis. Hovis contributed £300,000[5] out of the total £600,000 raised in commercial sponsorship and support.[6]

The event took place on Sunday 23 September 2007. In 2007, a 14 km route around central London from London Bridge to St. James's Park was closed to motorised traffic, allowing cyclists to take over the streets and enjoy London's most iconic sights.[7] The route took participants past a number of landmarks including the London Eye, Victoria Embankment, Westminster, Whitehall, St Paul's Cathedral, and The Mall. The event was designed for 30,000 cyclists but over 50,000 took part.[8]

As part of the day's cycling experience, there were six ‘Freewheel Hubs' across London where riders gathered to be led by experienced cyclists onto the vehicle-free route. The six borough ‘Freewheel Hubs’ at Gladstone Park - Brent, Finsbury Park - Haringey, Victoria Park - Tower Hamlets, Peckham Rye - Southwark, Clapham CommonWandsworth, Ravenscourt ParkHammersmith and Fulham, also offered the chance to have bikes checked by experts.

London Freewheelers could also take part in the Freewheel Festival, an event at St. James's Park open to all participants and visitors. Highlights of the festival included a Hovis picnic, BMX, mountain and trial bike stunts, cycling acrobatics, and bike displays along with children's activities and information on cycling in London.[9]

2008 (Sky Sports London Freewheel)

London Freewheel 2008, seen from Hungerford footbridge

London Freewheel took place on Sunday 21 September 2008, organised by TfL and the new mayor Boris Johnson, and sponsored by Sky Sports.[8] Sky contributed £100,000[5] out of the total £780,000 raised in commercial sponsorship and support.[6]

The 2008 event was announced as accommodating 100,000,[8] but this was later scaled back to 45,000.[5] Organisers estimated that 50,000 took part.[10]

A different route, 12 km in length, between the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, was again closed to motor vehicles all day (between 09:30 and 16:30) and open to cycles.[11] Local 'hubs' at the Emirates Stadium in Islington, Victoria Park, Clapham Common and Ravenscourt Park provided meeting points and guided rides to the event.[12]

2009 (Mayor of London's Skyride)

The Mayor announced in October 2008 that the central route would again be reviewed, considering opportunities for including part of the 2012 road cycling course or the 2009 Tour of Britain route. He also planned to work with outer London boroughs, where he sees most scope for an increase in cycling, to host their own Freewheel events.[13]

The first local event in outer London was held in Hounslow on Sunday 9 August; about 11,000 cyclists took part.[1] Other Skyride events took place the same month in Manchester, Glasgow and Leicester.

The 2009 Mayor of London's Skyride took place on the 20th September, along a 15 km route including a loop through the City.[14] A record 65,000 took part.[15] 3,500 joined 55 guided feeder rides from the suburbs, organised by the London Cycling Campaign.[4]

2010 (Mayor of London's Sky Ride)

Skyride 2010 group start

In January 2010, the Mayor and TFL announced plans to increase the motor-traffic-free events to three Sky Rides, including two unnamed outer London boroughs.[16]

On 7 May, Sky Ride announced the first of its activities for 2010 in London: a series of local rides in May, between 5 and 24 miles in length, some within parks (and therefore motor-traffic-free), others "semi-urban".[17]

On 25 May, Sky Ride announced its programme of City Rides for 2010,[18] with 12 rides in 10 cities, including the Mayor of London's Sky Ride Ealing on 18 July 2010, the Mayor of London's Sky Ride Redbridge on 15 August 2010 and the main Mayor of London's Sky Ride on 5 September 2010. On 31 August, Kelly Brook (as "Sky Ride Ambassador") joined Boris Johnson to launch the event.[19]

A new record of 80,000 cyclists took part.[2]

2011 (Mayor of London's Sky Ride)

Kelly Brook again launched the 2011 event in Central London, with a 7.2 mile route on 4 September.[20] Dull weather contributed to a lower turnout of 55,000 cyclists, which was welcomed by some participants.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Skyride sensation, TFL, 10 September 2009
  2. ^ a b c Hill, Dave (5 September 2011). "Skyrides and superhighways: slow progress towards London's "cycling revolution"". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Transport for London makes cycling easier, TFL, 21 August 2007
  4. ^ a b LCC, London Cyclist magazine, December 2009, pp 19-20.
  5. ^ a b c Hugh Muir,, September 11, 2008
  6. ^ a b Written answers nos. 2185 and 2186 of 2008, London Mayor's Question Time, 15 October 2008
  7. ^ "2007 Route Map". TfL. Archived from the original on 2009-03-15. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  8. ^ a b c 100,000 to Freewheel in London's streets, Evening Standard, 24 Jan 2008
  9. ^ Cyclists enjoy car ban in London, BBC, 23 September 2007.
  10. ^ Mayor and gold medallist take 50,000 on ride through car-free London, Evening Standard, 22 September 2008
  11. ^ "2008 Route Map". GLA. Archived from the original on 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  12. ^ London Cycling Campaign
  13. ^ Written answers no. 1997 of 2008, London Mayor's Question Time, 15 October 2008
  14. ^ "British Cycling / The Mayor of London's Skyride 2009". British Cycling. 20 September 2009. Archived from the original on 2010-04-06. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  15. ^ Skyride London: 65,000 plus cyclists take over the Capital, Cycling Weekly, 21 Sep 2009
  16. ^ More Skyrides head for Outer London in 2010, Bike Biz, 15 January 2010.
  17. ^ Enjoy London's sights from the saddle, Sky Ride, 7 May 2010
  18. ^ Get on your bike - Sky Ride is back!
  19. ^ On your bike for London's Sky Ride, Evening Standard, 1 September 2010
  20. ^ Prigg, Mark (2 September 2011). "Streets closed for mass bike ride". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 

External links

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