26 April 2009

The race to get car-free Sundays

Every Sunday from 7am-2pm, Bogota's 'ciclovia' scheme shuts 110km of roads to cars, freeing them up for skaters, pedestrians and cyclists. There's little chance at the moment of persuading London to do anything similar - the nearest is the annual London Freewheel, which will probably take place this year on Sunday 20 September. Southwark Cyclists are considering if it's worth lobbying for a regular local version of such car-free Sundays in some part of the borough; we'll let you know of any progress.

Anyway, some roads were shut in the centre today because of the London Marathon. So thanks to all those people in banana costumes, traffic levels dropped to that of a bank holiday. That made cycling round south London in the sun today sheer delight.

Part of that delight was stopping on Commercial Road in Peckham to admire (from the street) this BMX race meeting. It featured everyone from four-year-olds to 50-year-olds, and several likely 2012 medallists. (Interestingly, in several races girls and boys were racing together.) Not quite the quite incredible tricks of Edinburgh BMX acrobat and YouTube sensation Danny Macaskill, but impressive nevertheless.

All this BMX stuff is great and anything that persuades kids on to their bikes is good, but traffic-free Sundays would be better for encouraging sociability, mobility and fun. And you wouldn't have to rattle a tin around your friends, or wear a banana costume.

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