10,000 brave the rain to tell politicians London is ready for a Dutch-style cycling revolution

A herd of zebras, a boatful of sailors in oilskins, a pack of bandits on bikes, along with hundreds of families and children waving flags and balloons helped make the 10,000-strong Big Ride a spectacular success, sending a powerful message to the capital’s and the country’s politicians.

The massive crowd, representing every age and background, braved at-times atrocious weather to be part of the UK’s largest-ever bike ride supporting safer streets for cycling, organised by the London Cycling Campaign. 

Chief executive Ashok Sinha, riding with his partner Lucy and their children, said: “The Big Ride has been a spectacular success: we’re incredibly grateful to the thousands who braved the very British weather, and showed our politicians the amount of passion there is for safer cycling in the capital and beyond.

“An extra special thanks must go to the hundreds of volunteers, without whom we couldn’t have made the Big Ride happen.

“The five main mayoral candidates have all put their names to our Love London, Go Dutch campaign, so now it’s time to see action and funding that match the aspirations of London’s voters.”

Participants on the ride hailed from all corners of Greater London, with hundreds arriving on the 40 guided rides, and groups coming from as far afield as Bristol, Cambridge and even Copenhagen.

At one point the ride, taking place on traffic-free streets, stretched from the north end of Park Lane all the way to Piccadilly Circus, with more still arriving.

Jamie Crick from Classic FM, Jen Kerrison from Resonance FM, and Mark Ames from iBikeLondon entertained the crowd, as thousands gathered on Park Lane.

At the start line, politicians from all the main political parties were presented with the 37,000-name Love London, Go Dutch petition, calling for streets that are safe and inviting for cycling.

Journalists from the BBC (http://tinyurl.com/bbcbigride)  , ITN (http://tinyurl.com/itnbigride) , Sky News, Dutch and Chinese TV, along with The Times and The Guardian newspapers (to name a few), saw the 10,000 riders set off to a huge cheer, despite the drizzly conditions.

Persistent rain couldn’t dampen spirits as cyclists passed cheering crowds at Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, with the ride ending on the Embankment.

A crew of St John’s paramedic cyclists were in attendance, along with two fully equipped ambulances, but there wasn’t a single serious injury reported, despite the sometimes slippery conditions.

The London Cycling Campaign thanks the hundreds of volunteers who helped marshal the event with officers from the Metropolitan Police Cycle Task force, and the ride stopped regularly to allow pedestrians to cross the road.

LCC’s Mike Cavenett said, “The feedback from Twitter after the ride has been amazingly positive, though the general feeling seems to be that people are glad to be back home in the warmth after braving the conditions, which were more Glastonbury than the Algarve.”

Everyone who took part in the ride is reminded they can donate to the London Cycling Campaign by texting ‘LLGD12 £10’ (or another amount under £10) to the number 70070 via their mobile.

The London Cycling Campaign is a charity, whose work is funded by our members, donations and supporters.

Thanks to Brompton, the main supporter of our Love London, Go Dutch campaign, and the Dutch National Embassy and Bywaters, without whom the Big Ride could not have taken place.

Early reports from the Pedal on Parliament in Edinburgh are of an excellent turnout, with over 1000 people meeting on the Meadows to ride to the Scottish Parliament calling for better conditions for cycling.

Photos by Ben Broomfield and James Perrin