Birmingham scraps SkyRide event despite promise of ‘cycling revolution’

No 'suitable date' could be found to run a mass participation SkyRide event in Birmingham this year

Birmingham City Council has scrapped this year’s SkyRide event, sparking criticism from the cycling community, which sees it as a setback to the council’s promises of a £24.3m cycling revolution.

Although the council couldn’t find a suitable date this year, a spokesman told Cycling Weekly it is committed to its 20-year cycling plan and is already in talks for getting the event in the 2015 calendar.

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Last year the city was granted £17m from central government for its cycle revolution, the city council contributing £7.3m to 71 miles of new and 59 of improved cycle routes, and radial corridors in the city centre.

Surrinder Kumar posted on the forum Birmingham Cyclist: “Where is that £25 mill grant to be used if not for cycling related activities?”

Forum member Rich22222 wrote: “Unbelievable, how can an organisation that can’t organise a Sunday bike ride, be expected to deliver a cycling revolution?”

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “We bid for that [government] money which shows that we have a commitment [to cycling], we won the money, so the government sees we are committed.”

“We are almost finished the first phase of canal towpath works. It is a 20 year plan, and we are already in talks about getting this [event] into our calendar for 2015.”

The council’s spokesman admitted the city was ‘behind’ compared with other UK cities, but added: “It is about promoting awareness of cycling, it is about improving main routes for confident cyclists and quieter routes for less confident cyclists. A lot of it is about improving infrastructure as well.”

“We couldn’t find a suitable date to do it.”

Birmingham City Council still apparently has the task of winning hearts and minds.

Phil Eddington posted his displeasure at the organisation of last year’s event on the Birmingham Cyclist forum. Before the cancellation was announced he wrote: “As one of the SkyRide leaders I’m very disheartened that we will yet again up end with some half-hearted effort that ends up with a route that effectively goes nowhere interesting and encourages barely anyone new to have a go at cycling.”

A statement on the council’s website says: “This year we have had difficulties in securing a date and a suitable route so we have regrettably had to withdraw from the 2014 SkyRide Event. Our partnership with British Cycling is particularly important as cycling is one of our identified priority sports and we are working with them to establish a new route and date for the SkyRide Event in 2015.”

Birmingham’s Big Vintage Bike Ride is still running on June 22.

British Cycling was unavailable for comment.