Southampton Goes Car Free For Cyclists

25 May 2010, 13:03 | Updated: 25 May 2010, 13:18

Sky and British Cycling in partnership with Southampton City Council and supported by Southampton Primary Care Trust, have announced the launch of Sky Ride Southampton - a free family-oriented mass participation cycling event taking place across the city.

The Sky Ride event will take in Southampton's most iconic landmarks and sites with traffic-free streets, enabling cyclists to enjoy a day of bike-based entertainment and to explore their city on two wheels with family and friends. The free event aims to encourage thousands of people, of all ages and abilities, to get on their bikes.

Twelve Sky Ride  events will take place in 10 major cities across the UK this summer with smaller local rides also taking place across the country.  This year's events will build on the success of 2009, which saw over 110,000 people take part. Since last July, Sky's national cycling activities have encouraged almost 300,000 people to start cycling more frequently (cycling more than before Sky Ride 2009) and 92,000 of these people have become new regular cyclists (cycling at least once a month or twelve times a year)*.

Sky Ride is being backed by a line-up of celebrities and pro-cyclists this year who will be attending various events across the country. Participants will be able to ride alongside the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins. 

Sky RideSky Ride ambassador Sir Chris Hoy said; "Sky and British Cycling have a genuine opportunity to make a positive difference to people's lives by encouraging as many people as possible to get on their bikes. I had a fantastic time at last year's events in Glasgow and London and it was great to see so many families enjoying all the activities and having fun."

Announcing this year's summer of cycling, Jeremy Darroch, Sky's Chief Executive said; "After the fantastic response we had from the public last summer we want to make this year's Sky Ride even bigger and better. Ultimately we're aiming to get a million more people cycling regularly by 2013.  Through Sky Ride, we want to get Britain back on its bike."

Councillor John Hannides, Southampton City Council's cabinet member for Leisure Culture and Heritage, said: "I'm delighted that Sky Ride is coming to Southampton this summer. This will be a unique way for people to enjoy the city and I'm sure our residents will get right behind the event in their thousands. Sky Ride will open up the streets for cyclists for one special day and inspire everyone to get in the saddle and have a wonderful time with friends and family."

Councillor Matt Dean, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: "It's fantastic that we've been selected to host this great event - Southampton has so much to offer so I'm looking forward to Sky Ride. The day will give everyone a great opportunity to see parts the city from a whole new perspective and to get out, have fun and enjoy some exercise. Roll on July 25!"

Captain Jimmy Chestnutt, Hampshire Chamber area director for Southampton & Fareham and Ian Welland, Southampton City Centre Manager said : "This event is certain to be very popular locally and regionally, and will attract national coverage and generate good publicity for Southampton. The event will encourage people to take to their bikes for healthy exercise and as a mode of transport. Residents and visitors alike will be attracted to the Sky Ride  and we hope that they will stay to enjoy our city's other leisure attractions, take the opportunity to dine out with the family or simply go shopping! The City Centre will have an Arts and Crafts Market in Above Bar and Bargate as an added feature on the day. It should be a great day out."

Sarah Davis, from Tourism South East, is right behind Sky Ride Southampton. She said: "As the regional tourist board for the area, we are delighted to hear that an event of this magnitude is coming to the city of Southampton.  It will be a chance for visitors and residents alike to "get on their bikes" and experience all that the city has to offer.  So many people don't see what the city has to offer when they travel by car. We are keen to encourage visitors to look at other ways of travelling and cycling is perfect, not just as a healthy way to exercise but as a way to lessen car use and carbon emissions. We are delighted to support this event and wish everyone involved with it the best of luck."

Sally Lynskey, from Business Southampton, said: "Southampton hosting the Sky Ride event is a fantastic opportunity for the city. This event will attract thousands of participants will take in local landmarks and tourist attractions, showing just what the city can offer. Southampton City Council's events team is well placed to deliver and manage this event and maximise enjoyment and participation."

The Sky Ride events take place up and down the country starting in Ealing, in west London on 18 July and then moving to major towns and cities across the UK: Southampton and Bath (25 July), Manchester (1 Aug), Middlesbrough and the London Borough of Redbridge both (15 Aug), Glasgow (22 Aug), Leicester (29 Aug), Bradford (29 Aug), Blackpool (31 Aug), Mayor of London's Sky Ride in central London (5 Sept) and  Birmingham (12 Sept).

A series of Sky Ride Local events will also be taking place across the country. Trained cycle leaders from British Cycling will guide small groups of cyclists on routes around Southampton every Sunday throughout the summer. The local rides will offer a selection of routes at different levels of difficulty ranging from Ride Easy and Ride Steady for any age or ability, to Ride Well and Ride Strong for adults and teenager who want a slightly harder challenge.

Young people are encouraged to get on their bikes this year through British Cycling's initiative Go Ride, a cycling development programme for young people, and Go Ride Racing, a national entry level competition programme that bridges the gap between school and club based coaching sessions and racing.  Also Sky Ride Schools, a series of led-rides planned across the summer hosted at schools to encourage young people and their families to get cycling.

People interested in Sky Ride or cycling can click here for news, information and online registration for each of the Sky Ride events. The site will also feature tips and expert advice on how to ride safely and look stylish plus views from Sky Ride's cycling ambassadors.