Ride London – Should It Stay Or Should It Go?
Surrey County Council have launched a public consultation to ask what you think about the annual Prudential Ride London-Surrey cycling event continuing to pass through Surrey beyond 2021 till 2025 – the consultation is open till the 16th of February – a link to the survey can be found at the end of this post.
Prudential RideLondon is an annual two-day festival of cycling which takes place in London and Surrey. Routes pass through Surrey on the Sunday of the event. A professionals race called The Classic and three amateur cycling events the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100mile, 46mile and 19mile routes.
These all take place on closed roads.
The ‘Ride London’ concept was was developed by the Mayor of London, Transport for London in partnership with Surrey County Council and was designed as an annual legacy from the Olympic Games held in London during 2012.
I remember that Summer with unbridled joy!
We had just moved to Surrey from London.
Our first child, Emilia, was a mere 8 months old.
…and a major Olympics event was *literally* passing our doorstep
(a less than impressed Emilia, having pulled down her Snoozeshade to see what all the fuss was about then promptly fell back asleep)
Actually, 2 events.
The Road Race – where Mark Cavendish (favourite) was sadly unsuccessful in his quest to secure Team GB’s first Gold Medal of the games.
If you were lucky enough to witness this race passing through the various towns of Elmbridge and Surrey you will remember just how excited everyone was, the palpable buzz, the huge crowds on every inch of pavement across Surrey.
The roar of the crowd as the sound of the lead cars engines became audible.
I’m feeling a bit sombre and emotional little writing this as, I don’t know, society just seemed more content and less toxic then – I wish we could somehow rewind and just experience a little of that summer again.
Then came the Time Trials – Chris Frome and Bradley Wiggins whizzing through Hersham (I KNOW!), with the now Sir Bradley Wiggins on his way to the Gold Medal.
I remember the crowds standing all along the central reservation of the Esher Road for hours all afternoon as elite cyclists from each country came through our back yard.
As an Olympic Legacy its one I’m proud of.
And one that has hugely increased interest in cycling in Surrey.
That was 8 years ago.
Has the legacy run its course?
Is it now time for this event to move to another route and another county?
Has the excitement and anticipation waned.
Has it become increasingly ‘something to work around’ rather than ‘plan your diary around’.
We always take the kids (yes, there are now two – Emilia 8 and Lucas 6) to see the RideLondon pass through our local towns and people still line the streets to wave and cheer the cyclists on.
Complaints and criticism are getting louder and in greater numbers despite the organisers getting pretty slick with the rolling road closures and publishing real time information on their App – but neither of these measures are of comfort to those effectively ‘locked in’ on the parts of the route that are closed for the entirety of the day.
(During the very first RideLondon in 2013 I remember equally fondly us having to abort a trip to the Mother In Laws due to roads being closed as far as the eye could see!)
But, its more than just a spectator event.
In what other sport can ordinary members of the public emulate their Olympic heroes in such a way?
According to the official Prudential RideLondon website more than 100,000 cyclists will take part in the various events across the RideLondon 2020 weekend – with over 50,000 taking part in the Ride100.
The amount raised for charity by riders in the first 6 years of the event is £66 million making it Europe’s most successful cycling fundraising event with more than £4.3 million in grants being awarded to 70 projects in Surrey.
Some examples of where local Surrey projects have received funding as a direct result of RideLondon:
- Towards the creation of a new Inclusive Sports Facility at YMCA East Surrey’s Redhill site, which will provide a wide range of fully accessible and affordable participation opportunities for people with a broad spectrum of disabilities and additional needs.
- Towards the playground refurbishment at Abinger Common to provide brand new equipment that will enable play and physical activity opportunities for early years and young children.
- Towards Windlesham Bowls Clubhouse extension which will enable increased short mat bowls opportunities, in addition to table tennis, darts and other physical activities for older adults.
- Towards a new self-contained female changing room at Camberley Rugby Football Club which will significantly improve the participation experience of women and girls at the club and allow the expansion of a successful female community rugby programme.
- Towards refurbishment of an ageing clubhouse and the installation of a new accessible toliet at Egham Cricket Club, which will particularly support the engagement of children and young people, women and girls, and people with a disability in the club’s successful cricket programme.
- Towards a clubhouse extension at West End Bowls Club in Surrey Heath to enable the club and othe local organisations to offer year round short mat bowls and a range of other low impact exercise classes aimed at getting older people from the local community more physically active.
- Towards the development of a new Thames-side training centre in Elmbridge, Surrey for Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets
- Towards a new swimming pool enclosure (for an outdoor pool), improved changing rooms and equipment to support disabled pool access
- Complete renovation of the track, Runnymede Rockets BMX Club
- Towards the purchase and installation of an artificial cricket wicket for Claygate Cricket Club, Surrey, to enable the Club to meet capacity demand due to their expanding junior section, junior female section and Kwik cricket.
- Towards a new gymnastics facility in The Bishop Wand Church of England School for Spelthorne Gymnastics
- Towards a new Girlguiding residential building in Westcott, Surrey
- Towards the redesign and refurbishment of a well-used skate park at Kingston Road Recreation Ground in Surrey to provide physical activities for older teenagers and young adults in the area.
- Towards improvements to the indoor riding school at Casi’s Farm in Cranleigh, Surrey, which will safeguard the future of one of only two Riding for the Disabled Association facilities
- Towards a new accessible outdoor play facility at Challengers Farnham Playcentre, providing a range of inclusive play opportunities for disabled children and young people, their friends and families.
- Towards the installation of an Artificial Grass Pitch for multi-sport use at Cobham Rugby and Sports Association
- Towards a new skate park at Kingston Meadow in East Horsley, for the benefit of the local community, particularly children and young people.
Many, many more examples can be found here:
Despite claims to the contrary it provides a great High Street commerce boost.
Just look at some of the spectator events held in Weybridge, Esher and Thames Ditton where there are big screens, markets, live radio broadcasts and community fun days for an example of how this can directly benefit the local community.
It’s also a great showcase for the beautiful Surrey scenery which can only mean positive things for the County economy.
So is it time for this event to move to another route or should it continue to pass through Surrey beyond 2021 till 2025?
Is it time to let another county enjoy the commercial and community benefits in return for shouldering the disruption for a weekend?
In a recent interview with BBC Surrey, Surrey County Council Leader Tim Oliver seemed to suggest this is more than just a ‘consultation and the ‘result’ will be acted upon.
Whatever your view please do take a moment to participate in the consultation survey linked below – I’ve taken the survey and it only takes around 5 minutes to complete.
The questions are very straightforward and clear with plenty of space to write free text comments.
Have you joined the Elmbridge Life group on Facebook?