London Cycling Campaign estimates that at least 5000 cyclists took part in today's protest ride in London (and that's not counting the Tweed Run riders – the two events met at one stage). There were also rides in Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield. The #space4cycling campaign aims to influence would-be councillors in local council elections to pledge to do more for cycling. Over a third of London's local election candidates are backing the LCC's call for #space4cycling in their neighbourhood, with major support from the four largest parties.
LCC's Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said: "The Space for Cycling Big Ride was a fantastic opportunity for thousands of people to join together to send a powerful message to politicians and the media telling them we want real change on London's streets."
Riders cycled through Hyde Park Corner, Parliament Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and finished at Victoria Embankment.
In Newcastle, about 100 riders took part in a circuit of the city centre streets. At one point they had an escort of four police horses: also in town for the day was a protest march from the English Defence League. Junior members of Gosforth Road Club's Go-Ride section took part in the ride instead of their normal Saturday morning coaching session.
Go-Ride and #space4cycling are both sponsored by the bicycle industry via the Bike Hub fund. The London #space4cycling event grew out of the LoveLondonGoDutch campaign. LCC's #space4cycling campaign was then picked by nationally by CTC and Cyclenation, with financial support provided by the Bike Hub levy fund.
Another industry presence at the Newcastle ride was Trevor Hughes of Storck UK. "What a fantastic event," he said. "We need more of these."
Passers-by were generally supportive of the ride, and a police officer in town to keep apart anti-fascists and EDL members said: "We definitely need more space for cycling. I'm all in favour of that." [Picture gallery of the Newcastle ride.]
Roger Geffen of the CTC said: “The level of engagement in London and budding enthusiasm for the national campaign in other cities should leave no doubts as to what our nation wants from it’s government.”
Campaigners have got the support of more than 150 local councillors outside of London.