New cycle route linking every English cathedral to be launched in Bike Week

Winchester Cathedral is one of 42 landmarks linked by the Cathedrals Cycle Route
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New cycle route linking every English cathedral to be launched in Bike Week

All 42 Church of England cathedrals will be linked by a new 2,000-mile loop route, which will be launched with a relay ride to coincide with the Worlds Biggest Bike Ride on 30 May
  • 2,000-mile route links all 42 Church of England cathedrals, from Newcastle to Truro
  • Relay ride launches route on 30 May from Newcastle Cathedral
  • Launch coincides with World’s Biggest Bike Ride to kick off Bike Week 2021
  • Raising funds for Cycling UK’s campaign to Break the Cycle of social isolation

Whichever English cathedral you visit this year, you will be able to arrive by bike thanks to a unique partnership between the Association of English Cathedrals, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans that will link all 42 Church of England cathedrals in a new initiative to promote greener travel and mental and physical wellbeing.

The 2,000-mile Cathedrals Cycle Route is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University, and is designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental wellbeing activities.

Shaun and a small group of cyclists will launch the route with a relay event, Cycling With Purpose, setting out from Newcastle Cathedral, the most northerly Anglican Cathedral, on Sunday May 30. The relay will coincide with the World’s Biggest Bike Ride, marking the opening day of Bike Week (May 30 – June 5, 2021), the annual celebration of all things cycling, delivered by Cycling UK.

Shaun, who has worked with Newcastle Cathedral, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans to design the 42 linked routes, said: “The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them.  

“Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, this is a way to support people’s mental and physical health and promote the mission of England’s cathedrals through pilgrimage, wellbeing and heritage.”

The relay ride will transport a specially commissioned baton, Olympic torch-style, around the whole route passing along to different groups of cyclists at each cathedral who can join the ride for as little or as long as they like, with a group returning 42 days later (weather permitting) having cycled every Church of England cathedral.

The relay ride will raise money for Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle appeal, which aims to help improve people's wellbeing through the charity’s aim to create a healthier, happier and cleaner world, because more people cycle.

Sarah Mitchell, chief executive of Cycling UK, said: “This year’s Bike Week event is all about how cycling boosts wellbeing: physical, mental and emotional. Apart from the obvious health benefits of getting active and reducing our reliance on polluting vehicles, cycling gives us time to think, to reconnect with the outside world, and to meet other people.

“Our community-based projects, activities and groups around the country help people come together to ride, to chat, and to learn a skill that gives them mobility and independence, and we are delighted that the launch of this route will also raise funds to help this valuable work.”
 
It is hoped that the relay ride will become an annual event and will encourage more and more people to get on their bikes this year and beyond. Each cathedral aims to have a dedicated cycle champion to improve the cycle-readiness of their buildings, ensure a warm welcome for visiting cyclists and increase the number who arrive on two wheels – currently around 5%. It is also an opportunity for cathedrals to find new partnerships, promote mental and physical wellbeing and create new links to healthier activities and sustainable travel.

The Cathedrals Cycle Route comes on the back of an initiative early last year between the Association of English Cathedrals and the British Pilgrimage Trust that established a pilgrimage route to every Church of England cathedral taking in established wayfarer routes, other places of faith, spiritual pathways and lesser-known pilgrim ways enabling visitors to arrive on foot.
 
The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Revd Peter Howell, a keen cyclist and an executive member of the Association of English Cathedrals. said: “Every cathedral has an opportunity to be at the heart of initiatives to support its communities in recovery and as Christian people we have a huge responsibility for the stewardship of our creation.
 
“The Cathedrals Cycle Route is a wonderful way of bringing together these two important strands of our mission and ministry, and together with the pilgrim routes, allows visitors to appreciate not just the beauty and sanctity of our buildings, but to enjoy the journey between them as well.   
 
The Dean plans to join the small group riding out from Newcastle on May 30 to launch the new route. 

Contact information 

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Rob Kingston on 07880 424 912 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. Details of all 42 legs of the Cathedrals Cycle Route can be found at https://www.cyclinguk.org/cathedrals-cycle-route-challenge.
  3. Bike Week (30 May - 5 June 2021), delivered by Cycling UK, is an annual celebration to showcase cycling and how brilliant it is. Join thousands of people all across the UK and enjoy the simple pleasure of riding a bike. www.bikeweek.org.uk.
  4. The World's Biggest Bike Ride (30 May 2021) aims to give everyone a great reason to get out on their bikes, to celebrate the joy of cycling, and to get as many people riding as possible on one day; www.worldsbiggestbikeride.uk.
  5. Images are available on request.
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