PEDAL POWER EFFORT TO LAUNCH NATIONAL CYCLE NETWORK
170257 JUN 00
By Russell Fallis, PA News
Cyclists were setting off from London, Cardiff and Belfast this weekend as part of the Four Capitals Ride to celebrate the opening of the 5,000-mile National Cycle Network at Birmingham.
The riders will arrive in the city's Centenary Square, along with their counterparts from Edinburgh who departed last Monday, in time for Wednesday's ceremony, attended by Chris Smith, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport.
The four teams are cycling the new network which was designed by Bristol-based charity Sustrans (Sustainable Transport) at a cost of £200 million, including a £43.5 million Millennium grant.
Each team will be carrying a piece of a mosaic to be displayed at the centre of the network in Birmingham. The mosaic depicts the British Isles with the network illustrated on them and the final piece will be inserted by Chris Smith at Wednesday's ceremony.
The London cyclists will begin their 209-mile journey from Mile End Park in east London today, where they will first lead a London Cycling Campaign parade across a new foot and cycle bridge to a carnival celebrating the Millennium Festival of Cycling, a separate Millennium Commission project.
MP Oona King, Green Party mayoral candidate and London Assembly member Darren Johnson and celebrity Jim Fitzpatrick are supporting the London event.
At 5pm on Sunday two cyclists will leave Belfast's City Hall to carry the city's segment of the mosaic to Birmingham.
About 25 riders began their 215-mile journey from Cardiff to Birmingham yesterday at 9am. They were seen off by Sue Essex, the Welsh Assembly Secretary for Transport, Planning and the Environment.
John Grimshaw, director and chief engineer of Sustrans, said: "The imagination of the network is the beginning of a rediscovery of the bicycle as an efficient sustainable and thoroughly modern form of transport.
"All our partners can feel proud they have contributed to this new national resource."