I convinced my wife to come along, and our youngest was on the tag-along. Some snacks & a flask of hot chocolate went into the panniers on my bike, and we were off to the start on Plymouth Hoe.
There was a large number of cyclists on the Hoe already, and it took us some time to find the bins from where you were supposed to help yourself to a Sky Ride bib. There were stall on the Hoe promenade, and a seriously impressive stunt display. I was amazed to discover that the commentator was also a stunt-cyclist - he was commentating via radio mike whilst doing jaw-dropping tricks.
We set off quite early and was given a whole elfin-safety speech about the route not being car-free yet, and that we should be careful, and that we'd be doing it entirely at our own risk. Needless to say, we ignored the warnings and cycled on! Seriously, did they think we don't ever ride on roads unless they've closed them?
From the Hoe the route went against the normal flow of traffic, and soon we were cycling through Southside Street on the Barbican, before heading off to Royal William Yard. Just before the entrance to the Royal William Yard there is a little roundabout, and the road surface around it is cobbled. I was well amused to find somebody from Sky Ride sat there and give verbal warnings about the "uneven road surface ahead" and advising everybody to be careful.
|One of 2 "uneven surface" warning signs. This|
one's at the Barbican.
The route took in the new cycle path linking Richmond Walk with Mill Bridge Road, by Victoria park and I have to say it is quite a nice path. Yesterday I rode it again, only to discover Plymouth's stupid 'elfin safety obsessed road engineers have since fitted barriers at the start of the path. Absolutely unnecessary, unwanted and a complete waste of time and money!
From Mill Bridge Road the route looped back to the Hoe, and we were soon back there.
Overall, the day was a great success, with apparently over 7000 people taking part. Now I'll be the first to admit that 7000 isn't exactly the overwhelming majority of Plymouth's population, and yes, the 'elfin safety brigade went a little overboard (as they always tend to do, absolutely anywhere!) but overall it was a fantastic day.
What really drove the point of Sky Ride home to me was the impressive number of small children I saw riding bikes with training wheels. Without the road closures, those kids would never have been able to ride on the road as they did. Without the road closures, their parents may never have realised how much nicer roads are when they aren't shared with cars, and without that realisation they may never have had any understanding of why it is so important to campaign for better, Dutch-quality bicycle infrastructure.
Well done people of Sky Ride, and thank you!