Blog by Ruth
Sustainable Merton Trustee & Community Champion
As it was a sunny morning I decided to join Ride London to enjoy a stress-free cycle ride around Central London. My trusty steed and I set off from Wimbledon, going across Wandsworth and Clapham Common, through the leafy streets of Clapham Old Town and gentrified areas of Stockwell on Quietway 10 to the Oval, where I joined Cycle Superhighway 3 to Vauxhall and along the Thames to Lambeth Bridge and Parliament Square, where I joined the ride proper.
The one-way route was totally traffic-free. The roads were safely lined by barriers with road crossings for pedestrians supervised by marshalls. Our route paid no heed to traffic lights as there was no other traffic beyond thousands of cyclists. The speed was mostly quite leisurely, with time to take notice of some of London’s beautiful buildings. It was great to see loads of families with children as young as four or five pedalling along, toddlers in cargo bikes, on tagalongs or in bike seats. There were people on Boris bikes, guys old and young in lycra, people like you and me in their everyday clothes – representatives of all London’s wonderful diversity. Everyone had a smile on their face.
We went up Whitehall, along Pall Mall, Piccadilly, round Trafalgar Square, up Kingsway, along High Holborn, to St Paul’s and Bank, then back along Embankment. There were places to stop off and get your bike seen to, try out novelty bikes or do a slow bike ride “race”. There was a band of drummers at Aldwych and sound systems blaring out high energy music at various points on the loop. Cyclists could join or leave the route at any point. Some of the roads connecting to the route were also closed – I enjoyed cycling over a traffic-free Waterloo bridge on the opposite side of the road to normal usage! Then I put my bike on the train back to Wimbledon.
It would be wonderful to see this number of cyclists on the roads of London more often. It’s encouraging to see kids enjoying cycling, but there is a lot more to be done to make more people feel safe and confident to make more trips around their neighbourhoods and venture on longer trips across the city. I live in hope!