Updated: Saturday, 18th November 2017 @ 8:06am

Kelly Brook set for Manchester's SkyRide – but are there enough people cycling in Britain?

Kelly Brook set for Manchester's SkyRide – but are there enough people cycling in Britain?

By Gareth Westmorland

It’s less than a month before SkyRide comes to Manchester aiming to get Britain back on their cycling saddles.

Launched in 2009, the partnership with British Cycling and Sky was seen as a pioneering one, with rides right across the country that see thousands take part each time.

Last year’s SkyRide cyclists were joined by Olympic cycling hero Sir Chris Hoy and X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, and this year is supported by model Kelly Brook.

“This year is going to be my fourth SkyRide,” Brook said.

“It’s brilliant as you can bring your friends down and it’s for everyone really.

“If you want to bring your kids down you can do, everything is safe and cordoned off for you to relax and not worry about busy roads,” she added.

But will Britain ever be a cycling country such as the Netherlands?

Nearly 85% of the Dutch own at least one bicycle, according to Dutch website CyclingAroundTheWorld.

There are about 16 million bicycles in Holland, slightly more than one for every inhabitant. About 1.3 million new bicycles are sold every year, they say.

Compare that with Britain, the English charity CTC say that cycling represents no more than 2% of trips; with only 16% of adults include cycling in their activities.

But The London School of Economics and Political Science say that a 28% jump in retail sales last year led to 3.7 million bikes being sold at an average price of £439 each.

They also claim the increased levels of cycling also bring a range of benefits for businesses. Regular cyclists take one sick-day less per year, which saves the economy £128 million per year in absenteeism.

And just last week, Manchester City Council was reported to be looking at introducing a city-wide cycle hire scheme – like London’s ‘Boris Bikes’.

The London scheme is sponsored by Barclays and involves 5,000 bikes at 315 docking stations, which can be picked up and paid using an electronic access key or credit card.

Transport for Greater Manchester last year secured £5million from the government for a region-wide project to get more people cycling to work.

Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City Council leader, said: “We hope that this will help cyclists at every level – from novice through to experienced and competitive cyclists – and make cycling a real transport option for people in Manchester as well as promoting recreational and sport cycling.”

The council say they have the vision to have more people cycling in Manchester than elsewhere in England by 2017. That seems a bold target, but that’s where the SkyRide next month will certainly boost the awareness of cycling.

And with the Olympics on the horizon, Team GB’s cycling team will undoubtedly give the pastime and more importantly the exercise part of riding a bicycle the biggest exposure Great Britain has ever seen.

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