Over 15,000 keen cyclists took the opportunity to ride on closed roads on Tuesday evening in the 2011 Ride The Lights event held on Blackpool's famous seafront. The route took the riders of all ages and on all types of bikes from Starr Gate at South Shore to Red Bank Road in Bispham riding past the famous Tower and Metropole Hotel.
The event is seen as a great way to get people out riding their bikes and also gives a sneak preview of the annual Illuminations which are turned on 2 September by comedian Keith Lemon, Olly Murs and Joe McElderry. Although showers had threatened earlier in the day, the sun came out just before the 7pm start which was led off by Councilor Graham Cain, Cabinet Minister for Tourism and Culture from the main hub on the North Pier.
The event is now in its fifth year and has steadily grown in popularity year on year with riders from all over the North West area taking part in this unique event. The already impressive promenade which is still under construction will allow riders to ride traffic free when it is completed and give families the perfect opportunity to ride safely at their own pace. There was an interesting collection of costumes on display with people getting into the spirit of the night, spotted on the roads was a nun,a helicopter, tigers and riders adorned with flashing lights, springy ears and brightly coloured flags and all enjoying the warm seaside hospitality and.....chips.
Prior to the event Councilor Graham Cain said: "I've come prepared tonight with my own bike, I don't think the organisers realised I have one but I'm all ready to ride. We had Sky Ride here recently which was very successful, we had a lot more cyclists here then we had initially anticipated. I think tonight will be a very successful event."
Chris Pope, Marketing and Events Executive added: "We estimated over 15,000 cyclists rode the event last night, a very successful night for all concerned. The event is promoted by Visit Blackpool in conjunction with Cycle Blackpool and we are around seven years into a fifteen year regeneration project. When the seafront is finished we hope it will encourage cyclist, skaters and walkers to come and enjoy Blackpool."
Adding lots of colour and noise to the night was Blaze, a local group of 16 to 25 year olds whose entourage include members from Morcambe Foyer, a supported housing scheme for single homeless people. The Blaze bikes couldn't be mistaken with their unique 'Blaze' flags which had been specially designed by local artist Shane Jouhstone and certainly proved popular riding along the route
Sarah Donaville (Blaze Project manager) commented: "Blaze is a three year project which is part of the cultural Olympiad; we look at the connection between arts and sports creativity and getting physical in the lead up to the Olympics. In this event tonight we have around thirty young people riding with Blaze. We are funded by Lancashire County Council and Blackpool council and the Lancashire Trust which is lottery funded."
Local charities were also on the route and the biggest one of the night was CAFOD which is helping to raise money for the Ethiopia draught appeal. Over thirty cyclists from the appeal were out on the route lapping up the atmosphere of the evening and raising awareness of their cause.