Cyclists will go through Richmond, Kingston, Wimbledon and Chelsea
The Prudential RideLondon event once again faces a mixed reaction from the residents of South West London, after the cycling festival announced its route last Thursday.
Organisers confirmed that 24,000 cyclists will hit the streets of Richmond, Kingston, Surbiton, Wimbledon, and Chelsea on August 9 and 10 following the success of the inaugural event in 2013.
But for many smaller businesses, the full weekend of closures proves to be more trouble than it’s worth, with some choosing to close their doors for the weekend altogether.
Domenico Bolla, owner of the Victorian Cafe in Wimbledon, is one example.
He said: “I just shut for the weekend as there’s no point in me opening. Nobody can cross the road so nobody can get to my shop.
“There’s no need for the barriers really, one steward would be enough to control people crossing the street.
“There are only short spells of constant flow of bikes, most of the time there are very few or none at all passing through – yet this costs us a whole weekend of business. I find it silly to shut such a long stretch of road.”
Many other businesses have the same complete lack of footfall caused by barriers set up for the whole weekend.
Krishn Kataria, owner of Worple News in Wimbledon, added: “This event is very bad for us. There is no business at all as they block everything.
“The rents are extremely high in this area so we lose a lot that weekend. We open anyway, but what can we do?”
However, RideLondon event director Hugh Brasher has defended the event, saying the negative impact on businesses was an issue they are trying to address.
“We want London communities to benefit over 365 days a year, so we are looking at the whole picture and not just one weekend.
“We are working with the local councils and encouraging as many people as possible to come and watch, so we get the same kind of street party atmosphere we saw at the Olympic Games. This is a London 2012 legacy event.
Statistics have shown that 20% more people are coming to London in the wake of 2012.
This year RideLondon has four and a half hours of BBC coverage, and was shown in 112 countries around the world in 2013 with the number set to rise this year.
“We want this growth of visitors to London to continue, which will help people all over the city” said Mr. Brasher. “We are looking to turn this into the biggest and best cycling event in the world.”
The event is clearly very popular around London. This year 80,000 people applied to take part in 27 days before the ballot closed, and over 100,000 spectators turned out in 2013 to cheer the 150 professional riders on.
Mr Brasher added that the event offers an unrivalled cycling experience for those taking part and watching.
“The opportunity to cycle on closed roads through London and Surrey landmarks is unique.
“People who take part come away from it saying it was the best day they have ever had, and people watching are inspired not only by seeing the best cyclists in the world but also seeing normal people taking on the challenge.
“That’s the best way to view RideLondon, not as a race but a challenge that anyone can take on.”
The growth of RideLondon looks set to continue and the event is almost certain to rival the London marathon in just a few years.
But the impact of the weekend is certainly still a concern for many smaller businesses of London’s south-west suburbs.
Photo courtesy of PAUL FARMER, with thanks.
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