Hackney children get on their bikes to test new 2012 cycling route

More than 100 Hackney school children were the first to test out the new 2012 Hackney Parks Walking and Cycling Route yesterday (Thurs 23 June), as they celebrated Bike Week with a mass bike ride.

Bike Across the Borough was organised by Hackney Council and The Learning Trust and saw youngsters cycling the route from Finsbury Park to the Olympic Park Viewtube.

Starting at Parkwood Primary School N4, the six mile ride followed the new 2012 Hackney Parks Route through Clissold Park, Hackney Downs and Well Street Common, with more schools joining the ride en route to the Olympic Park Viewtube.

Students, school staff and cycling instructors then cycled to Well Street Common in time for lunch where they were met by Olympic medallist and long-time GB National Cycling team member Bryan Steel and competed in a static bike race put on by British Cycling.

The ride was a chance for students to practice on-road cycling skills learned this year through national standards cycle training, while experiencing first-hand how easy and fun it is to get across the borough by bike, while taking in some of the borough s green spaces.

The new route is funded by the Olympic Delivery Authority with support from Transport for London. It has been implemented by Hackney Council and includes improvements along the route such as improved crossings and pavements and tree planting.

Travelling to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by foot or by bike will be much easier thanks to the new route, and it will leave a lasting legacy for sustainable transport in the borough.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "It was great to see so many young people taking part in this excellent event, which so many schools and organisations, along with the Council, were involved in organising. Having the event on World Olympic Day was a perfect way for our young residents to celebrate the new walking and cycling route our borough has gained as a result of us being a host for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“I look forward to seeing many people using the new route during, before and after the Games, and would love to see Bike Across the Borough become an annual event."

Steve Belk, Acting Chief Executive of The Learning Trust, said: "Cycling is a great way to get around Hackney in an environmentally-friendly way. We hope that after their experience at this event more children will feel confident about cycling to school, and parents will feel encouraged to leave the car at home. Cycling to school helps children to be healthier, happier and more alert for lessons."

Bryan Steel said: “Cycling all the way across a built up area, seeing such a large group of young people on bikes, and seeing the Olympic Park for the first time was great. It s going to be a moment in my life I ll remember forever."