Yesterday afternoon, I held an event in Trafalgar Square for ‘Olympics on my Ride,’ an informal group of Chinese cyclists who rode over 2,500 to give London a blessing before the Olympics. As visitors from around the world looked on, our Chinese visitors met British cyclists and I at the foot of the Olympic Countdown Clock, where we unfurled banners and shook hands in solidarity.
I met this inspiring bunch last year when I went to Guangzhou in China to discuss sustainable transport, and was given a cycling tour around the city. I was dazzled by the city’s ambitious Bus Rapid Transit initiative. It struck me that Chinese cities face, although on a different scale, the same challenges we have in London: congested roads and poor air quality. In China, this is due in no small part to the increasing dominance of cars on the streets. Luckily, there is a growing movement of ordinary Chinese fighting to reclaim the street for the bike. That’s why I was honoured to welcome this extraordinary group of cyclists to London.
See below for photos from yesterday’s event and the press release I distributed to media.
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London Assembly Member Nicky Gavron welcomed a group of Chinese cyclists who rode over 2,500 miles to give London a blessing before the Olympic Games. Members of the ‘Olympics on my Ride’ cycling group made the two month journey from Guangzhou in China to Beijing, and then from Rome to London. The cycling enthusiasts came to bless London as the Olympic and Paralympic Games get under way and to mark the games moving from Beijing in 2008. The group also aims to encourage more people to take up cycling as a low-carbon and healthy way to get around.
Nicky Gavron was joined by the London Cycling Campaign and the Cycling Touring Club to welcome ‘Olympics on my Ride’ at an event held in Trafalgar Square. As tourists from around the world looked on, the two groups met at the base of the Olympics’ Countdown Clock and unfurled banners on which renowned calligraphy artists had painted Chinese designs symbolising peace and friendship.
Nicky met the group last year on a trip to Guangzhou to investigate the city’s ambitious Bus Rapid Transit programme.
Today’s event, held on the first day of the Games Lanes being enforced, acted as a timely reminder of cycling as an option not just for aspiring Olympians, but for commuters as well.
Labour London Assembly Member Nicky Gavron said:
“When I was Deputy Mayor of London I helped usher in the fastest shift from cars to buses, bikes and foot in history. Now China is suffering from the swift ascent of the car, but there is a growing movement of ordinary Chinese people fighting to reclaim the streets for the bicycle. That’s why, fresh on the heels of Bradley Wiggins’ triumph in the Tour de France, and with just days to go before the opening ceremony, I am proud to welcome Olympics on my Ride to London.”
“The commitment and determination of this group to cycle 2,500 miles is truly inspiring. We need to do all we can to promote cycling in our great city and make sure that the roads are safe for everybody.”