Great Britain’s two joint most successful Olympians have hailed the impact of HSBC UK City Rides in getting the nation active, as it is revealed that in excess of 100,000 people attended this year’s series of events, cycling a total of over 1.5 million kilometres, all on traffic-free roads.
HSBC UK City Rides took place in 14 major cities across the country, with the 2017 season coming to a close in Liverpool last Sunday. The free-to-attend events are the first step towards HSBC UK and British Cycling’s ambition to get two million people on bikes by 2020, making cycling the UK’s most popular activity and sport of choice.
Participants cycled an estimated total of 1,595,500 kilometres - the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back twice.
Six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, who attended the events in Birmingham and Manchester, said:
“These figures are truly fantastic, and go a long way to show the huge appetite for cycling when people are given a safe, welcoming space in which to do so. Throughout the summer we have seen people of all ages, abilities and confidence levels cycling through traffic-free streets in some of Britain’s biggest cities.
“British Cycling and HSBC UK want to make this a normal, rather than an exceptional sight - making our country greener, healthier and happier along the way - and it’s great to know that, through this year’s HSBC UK City Rides, they’ve made such a positive start.”
During each event, city centre roads were closed to motor traffic, and the environmental benefits of prioritising sustainable transport were highlighted by a study conducted by Newcastle University, which found that during the city’s HSBC UK City Ride, there was a 75% reduction in harmful gases -nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - in the air.
Jason Kenny, who matched Hoy’s total of golds by winning three Olympic titles in Rio last summer, said: “There is clear evidence of the environmental, health and social benefits of getting people on their bikes. HSBC UK City Rides have proved a great way to get families out and about and exercising together in particular.
“HSBC UK City Rides will be returning in 2018, and I would urge everyone to get along to their nearest city and experience the day for themselves.”
A survey of participants in all 14 of this year’s events revealed that 56% were taking part in their first British Cycling mass participation cycling event, and that 91% had enjoyed a positive experience.
Eight in ten people (79%) were encouraged to take part in a City Ride because it offered a traffic-free route, whereas six in ten (59%) took part in a City Ride to spend time with their family and 41% of participants took part in a City Ride to encourage their kids to be active.
Luke Harper, HSBC UK’s head of the partnership with British Cycling, said: “Our partnership with British Cycling is about getting people onto their bikes, whether it is for leisure, travel or fitness. It was fantastic to see so many people taking part in the HSBC UK City Rides up and down the country with individuals and families, enjoying a great day out on two wheels.
"We are already looking forward to the 2018 HSBC UK City Rides, but there are still very many opportunities for people to dust down their bikes and get back on the saddle, and fall back in love with the freedom that cycling gives you.”
There are countless other opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to attend free, organised rides right across the country at www.letsride.co.uk.