Sky Ride cycling event axed over lack of funding

Sir Chris Hoy and DJ Edith Bowman lead thousands in the 2012 Sky Ride. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Sir Chris Hoy and DJ Edith Bowman lead thousands in the 2012 Sky Ride. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A CYCLING event launched by Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy has been cancelled after two years over a lack of funding.

Sky Ride Edinburgh, launched in 2012 in a bid to capitalise on Hoy’s Olympic success, featured thousands of people cycling around city landmark Holyrood Park.

Organised by broadcaster Sky and British Cycling, the city council contributed £20,000 to pay for the event and a smaller series of local rides held throughout the year.

However in 2013 just 250 people turned out for these events, causing council bosses to pull the plug, with funding now going to a professional race series in a bid to tempt Tour De France organisers to choose Edinburgh for the prestigious race’s Grand Depart.

Unable to continue footing the bill for the large-scale event, Sky Ride organisers have now decided to ditch it.

Joel Lavery, national partnerships manager for British Cycling said: “We ask all our partners to provide financial and other support. Edinburgh City Council were not in a position to do this so unfortunately there will be no Sky Ride in Edinburgh this year.

“We understand that they have difficult decisions to make so we are always happy to open up discussions again should circumstances change.”

The council insisted no agreement was ever reached to part-fund the event on a yearly basis and that the Sky Ride was only ever to take place in 2012, with last year’s event only going ahead at short notice when the organisers footed the entire bill.

City council festivals champion Steve Cardownie said: “Given the many cycling successes during the London Olympics, summer 2012 was the perfect time to host the first Sky Ride here in Edinburgh and we were delighted that Sir Chris Hoy was able to join the many thousands of participants for a traffic-free ride through Holyrood Park. While originally intended as one-off event, we were more than happy to host a second Sky Ride last year and would, if approached, consider doing so again.”

And to show their support for cycling, city bosses have now turned their attention to the Pearl Izumi Tour – a televised cycle race series taking place over five weeks across the UK in May/June, with highlights of every round shown on ITV4.

Funding of £50,000 has now been allocated towards this in the hope of securing the potential future staging of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.

The Pearl Izumi Tour will hit the Capital on Thursday, May 29 with cycle races taking place on a loop round the Grassmarket, taking in Victoria Street, part of George IV Bridge, and Candlemaker Row.

Cllr Cardownie added: “The council continues to promote participation in cycling, having committed seven per cent of this year’s transport budget to cycling investment and agreeing to support the forthcoming Pearl Izumi Tour Series event.”

Ian Maxwell of city cycle charity Spokes said: “We are keen that the council uses its budget in the most effective way. We look forward to lots of promotional cycling this year whether or not the Sky Ride takes place.”

Safety fears after another track tumble

As daytime tram testing grows ever nearer another cyclist has raised safety concerns after crashing while crossing the track at Haymarket Station.

Martin Finlayson, 51, from Stockbridge, has only just returned after spending four months working in France and so was unaware of the treacherous nature of the cyclist blackspot.

Mr Finlayson was sent flying just after 11am on Monday when his bike wheel slipped on the tram tracks as he made his way to visit his brother in Corstorphine.

He said: “I was cycling across one line and my bike came away from under me and it and I ended up in the middle of the road. If a tram or any other traffic had been coming along the carriageway towards Murrayfield I would have been severely injured and possibly worse.

“I suffered a cut on my leg, bruised ribs and a grazed hand. My bike handlebars have been bent along with the brake levers. My cycle trousers, jacket and gloves were all ripped.”

He added: “My main concern is that this is apparently a known trouble spot but any work the council has done to improve safety for cyclists obviously isn’t working. Something needs to be done immediately before a more serious accident occurs.”

Daytime tram tesing is due to get under way in the city centre later this week.

Upon being informed of this latest accident, Cllr Lesley Hinds, city transport convener, said: “We’re sorry to hear about this accident and we wish Mr Finlayson a swift recovery. Incidents like this reinforce our message for cyclists to take extra care when cycling around the tram tracks, especially in wet weather when the tracks can be particularly slippy. We would also urge cyclists to heed the local signage.”