Cyclists infront of the Curfew Tower in Barking

Youngsters from Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club met professional cyclists from the AWOL O’Shea and Brother UK – LDN cycling teams today, together with Councillor Syed Ghani, of Barking and Dagenham Council, to announce a festival of cycling and sustainability in May, incorporating the UK’s leading gender equal cycling races.

The races will be the only London round of the televised Tour Series event and will form part of a wider Barking BikeFest, which will take place around the historic Abbey Green on 21 May.

Barking will host the series in the year that the event will start alternating between staging the men’s and women’s races first and second on the schedule. Additionally, both events will take place over the same one hour and five lap distance, with the series continuing to offer equal prize pots for the winners. Winners of the women’s race will receive the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup after the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.

Cllr Ghani, Barking and Dagenham Council’s Cabinet member for Public Realm, said: “BikeFest is going to be a fantastic free event for all the family. Not only will it be a wonderful celebration of cycling and sustainability but also of equality.

“It’s fitting Barking is to host a gender equal cycling event as I believe our borough is the birthplace of feminism in the UK. From Mary Wollstonecraft, who lived here, to the Dagenham Ford women strikers, this borough has always fought hard for fairness and equality.”

Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “I know cycling fans have been clamouring for the Tour Series to return to London, so I hope they start making plans to come to Barking on Saturday 21 May! We’re excited to be a part of the first-ever BikeFest, which promises to be a fantastic community event, and I can only thank everybody involved behind-the-scenes for all of their efforts so far. You won’t want to miss this – it’s going to be great!”

Russell Coe, Secretary of Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club, said: “It’s brilliant that Barking is hosting the London round of the Tour Series in 2022 and opening up and promoting cycling in the community by hosting BikeFest – it’s a bold and visionary move from the council and Be First.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham’s regeneration arm, which is helping to organise BikeFest, said: “We’re really looking forward to the BikeFest which will have top class racing and will be a wonderful community event to celebrate and promote cycling, healthy living and green sustainable travel.”

The Barking BikeFest will run from 11am to 9pm and will also include:

• Community BikeFest – mass participation events on the race-course for local people
• The Green Village – community fun and entertainment on Abbey Green
• Electric Avenue- showcasing green travel technology

Further information on timings of the day’s events will follow.