Event report: Croydon’s ghostly cycle ride, Sunday 20th November

By - Wednesday 23rd November, 2016

Croydon is the most haunted borough in London. So we got on our bikes and went on a ghost-hunt

Image by Theatre Utopia, used with permission.

Croydon is, apparently, stiff with ghosts. And with this spurious piece of data, we were off. Where exactly in Croydon do these phantoms live? Who are these poor lost souls, doomed to wander our streets in eternal sorrow? How could we share these fantastical stories with our fellow townspeople in a fun, yet terrifying, way?

Or rather, I was off, dragging the rest of the Croydon Cyclists behind me. But what a delicious opportunity to get people out on their bikes! And when some of your best friends are professional storytellers, how could it not be anything other than a fantastical adventure!

The inaugural CR Ghost Tour took place on Sunday 20th November. We found some of our borough’s most haunted parks, started researching our tales, got the route together and perhaps most importantly, found a suitable venue to warm-up again in at the end of the ride (the gorgeous Coffee Craft in Stanley Halls). Actors from Theatre Utopia joined us to complete the illusion, and Hackney storytelling legend Miranda Roszkowski debuted an original piece of writing in homage to Croydon’s ghostly heritage. As we stood in Addiscombe Railway Park with darkness fading, we may even have glimpsed an eerie figure wandering ahead as a shrill whistle ripped through the air… But we cycled with tongues firmly in cheek, disbelief suspended and sense of humour engaged… and all had grand old time.

We want to share ways to make our bike rides calmer and safer

We certainly don’t want this to be a one-off. Our aim as Croydon Cyclists is to get bums on saddles, so we very much hope that adventures on wheels like this this one will appeal to less confident cyclists and families. We want to do all we can to make cycling fun in Croydon, no matter your skill level.

Back in July, I was delighted when forty cyclists joined us for our Freecycle feeder ride, and I loved talking to a couple of cyclists who told me who they were representing the Home Office. They told they’d signed up for the ride the day registration opened and would do the same again for Freecycle 2017. But they also reported that they didn’t cycle normally, as they didn’t feel it was safe enough.

Our routes are all designed to find quieter streets and off-road paths, and hence to share some of the ways we can make our bike journeys calmer and safer. We’re taking our inspiration from groups such as the Lambeth Cyclists, whose collaborations with Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre include last June’s Midsummer Cycle Ride and a Festive Light Ride, and Penge Cycle Club whose annual Tour de Penge goes from strength to strength. We hope to have a few more themed rides, like the ghosts, lined up ready for the new year, perhaps building on the foundations of the National Trust’s Edge City Croydon architecture tour (pun entirely intended), with growing numbers of local riders discovering Croydon by bike.

Amy Foster

Amy Foster

Amy Foster is a trustee of the London Cycling Campaign and works with Croydon Cyclists to improve cycling for all across the borough. She's a primary school teacher and is based in South Norwood. Find her on twitter @amyecoates.

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  • Abhi T

    Anna, we had a great time. There were three of us (with our kids) belonging to the “Desi Cycling Club”.

    The tour was well organised, well marshalled, great route and informative, entertaining guides. Well done and keep it up

  • blath8@googlemail.com

    Great idea! Where do I sign up for next year?