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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

London Cycle ride marks the start of Bike Week

Today I have been to London to join the All Party Parliamentary Cycle Ride which marks the start of Bike Week. I was there as part of a group representing BEBA the British Electric Bicycle Association. It’s all about promoting cycling, and in our case promoting electric cycling.

The event started at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands situated next to Hyde Park. I had to be there at 8.00 for breakfast and talks and then the ride was to start at 9.00. I decided that the best plan was to drive up from Essex in the car with the conveniently folded Dash in the boot, park outside the congestion charging zone and ride in. The 44 mile journey was supposed to take an hour and a half according to the AA route planner, but with morning traffic to take into account I decided to give myself two hours, which was just as well, as I arrived at 8.00. The journey was pretty uneventful apart from passing some high spirited cavalry horses in the last mile.

The Embassy was very welcoming and all attendees were presented with a bright orange rucksack which proclaimed “Love Cycling, Go Dutch”. 

After the speeches we headed out into Hyde Park to group up. 

The event was headed by a rider from the MET Police Cycle Team. He told us that we must obey the rules of the road and stop at red traffic lights, which is how it should be. I think they had a tough time keeping such a big group marshalled but they worked well as a team and the ride went well. 

At one point a Range Rover driver was getting a bit impatient and trying to cut into the group at some traffic lights, but the policeman just had to point to his shoulder badge and the driver thought better of it.

There were lots of different people on the ride including many from the Dutch Embassy, three of them were riding wooden framed bikes.

The Ambassador, Ms Laetitia van den Assum also joined the ride. At one point she pulled alongside me and asked about my bike. I explained that it was an electric bike and that you could select different levels of assistance depending upon the terrain. She told me that electric bikes were very popular in Holland.

It was a superb ride taking in so many iconic sights of the City. We rode down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace and along Birdcage Walk to the Palace of Westminster where we congregated on the green opposite Black Rods Garden.

The Batribike Dash stood out from the crowd on the green
After a photo call everyone dispersed. The electric bikes intrigued Rags Martel, a reporter from the ITV news who had been doing a piece on the event. When he had finished the story on the ride he hopped on the Dash had had a quick ride around the green. When he returned he had that “electric bike grin” on his face.

It was then time to ride back to the car. Going back up Birdcage Walk a troop of mounted Horseguards were coming the other way in the sunshine, and then when I got to Buckingham Palace they were changing the guard and the band was about to play – I couldn’t have timed it better.

Back to the car and I set the TomTom for home. It took me on a magical mystery tour avoiding the congestion zone again. I drove a long the Thames Embankment, more iconic views. I could see Battersea Power Station’s unique shape, then across Vauxhall Bridge. Wiggling my way across the south side of the river I then had to cross back via Tower Bridge with an excellent view of the Tower of London. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit I still get that excited feeling when I see all these great landmarks. From there it was a short hop to the Elephant and Castle with a view of the Shard and via the Limehouse Tunnel to Docklands where I could see the bright yellow gantry sticking up from the O2.

What an excellent day out!


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