Sky’s the limit for city cyclists
The sun shone on thousands of cyclists who took part in the first annual Sky Ride NewcastleGateshead.
The free 10.3km cycling event was an enormous success, attracting people from all over the region to take advantage of traffic-free streets and discover the fun, freedom and health benefits of cycling.
Almost 8,000 people descended on the Quayside for a day of cycling and entertainment – and the sun was in attendance too.
I was there, on my bike, chatting to some of the families who had come out to take part and I also had the opportunity to meet six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and presenter Edith Bowman, who brought a touch of star quality to the proceedings.
The atmosphere was really special and I’d like to thank everyone who made the event possible and who worked on planning such an attractive route map and itinerary of entertainment and other activities.
It says a lot about our region’s ability to host world-class sporting events, with the Olympics still fresh in the memory and the Rugby World Cup just around the corner, and we look forward to hosting Sky Ride again in 2014 and 2015, in partnership with Sky and British Cycling.
There’s plenty still to come this summer in the shape of Sky Ride Local, which offers free weekly rides in your area. I’m one of a team of trained ride leaders, so I hope to see you there. At the same time, our partners British Cycling are continuing to host Breeze bike rides for women cyclists. You can find out more information about both of these programmes at goskyride.com.
Sky Ride has already whetted the appetite for better cycling in the city – and it sets the scene nicely as the council’s cycling ambitions continue to take shape.
We are eagerly awaiting news of a £5.6m bid to the Department of Transport, which will enable us to make a start on some of the larger infrastructure schemes we have designed, in consultation with all of our stakeholders, as part of our 10-year strategy to make the city fit for cycling.
It’s important to remember that cycling isn’t just about ‘getting on a bike’. We know that as well as the health benefits, it has important economic benefits. It’s a great, sustainable, and cheap form of transport that allows people to get to work and alleviates some of the pressure on our overcrowded roads and public transport system.
We’re making a lot of progress and we are learning from some of the great cycling cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen but we can’t make it happen overnight.
I’d like to think that Sky Ride has helped to encourage more people to consider cycling as means of keeping fit and healthy and having fun, as well as families with young children and toddlers. These are the future generations we need to reach as we strive to make Newcastle a city fit for cycling.
You can check out the images from the day on the council’s Flickr page.
Councillor Marion Talbot, chair of the Newcastle Cycling Forum