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Sky Ride cancelled in Birmingham again

Event organised with British Cycling is axed due to cricket fixtures at Edgbaston and ongoing developments around the city

Sky Ride Birmingham 2013 in Cannon Hill Park

Birmingham's annual Sky Ride bike event has been axed for a second year running – despite council claims that cycling is a top priority.

Birmingham City Council has confirmed the British Cycling staged event won't take place this year, blaming cricket fixtures at Edgbaston and redevelopment work in the city.

In a statement the city council said that deputy leader Ian Ward would meet with officers in the next few weeks to look at options for staging mass participation cycle rides at some point in the future.

It is the second year on a row the event won't take place - it was cancelled in 2014, with officials citing road tunnel closures.

Sixteen other cities will be hosting Sky Ride events across the country but Birmingham riders will miss out.

The 2013 event was hailed as a huge success, attracting 18,000 riders, including Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott.

The council received £17 million in government funding last year for a "Birmingham Cycle Revolution" to create a safer cycle network, and making Birmingham a 'cycle city'.

Campaigners said they were disappointed with the move and called on the council to organise another event.

Chris Lowe, chairman of cycle campaign group Push Bike, said: "It is very disappointing especially with so much money being spent in the city as part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution.

"It would have been an excellent opportunity to showcase cycling in the city in conjunction with the new cycle network. I would call on the council to stage its own event.

"I think it is very important with the money that has been invested in cycling in the city that these large cycle events are staged. The more people we can attract to cycling the better."

 

David Cox, chair of CTC, the national cycling charity, said: "I understand Birmingham will not be one of the cities across the UK which will be staging a Sky Ride in 2015. It is disappointing. Events like this are great for raising the profile of cycling and getting lots of people to take part."

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: "A significant amount of effort went into trying to find a suitable date for the Birmingham Sky Ride last year, however, we encountered a range of difficulties which regrettably led to withdrawing from the 2014 series.

"The series has no doubt become very popular nationally and a number of the core cities now have regular calendar dates.

"When this factor is combined with Birmingham's extensive event programme, we are left with a small window of opportunity. To further compound this issue, matching a "suitable" route to the remaining available dates is extremely complicated."

The council said in the past the fact that the city centre was on a hill meant that the area around Cannon Hill Park had been used.

But they said the Edgbaston Ashes test match in July was at around the same time as the Sky Ride.

The spokesman added: "This is ordinarily an ideal route as being flat and family friendly, however, cricket fixtures at Edgbaston along with other business and stakeholders on the route need to be considered as best as possible.

"The release of the cricket fixtures makes it difficult for us to confirm the use of these roads well in advance. We also need to remain sensitive to the residents of this area who are being impacted on throughout the year with a range of other road closures and events.

The council said it would now look to develop alternative events such as the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Bikeathon, which took place last September.

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