Active Environments

Ford RideLondon-Essex

Cycling event returns to the county for its second year

RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, is a legacy event from the London 2012 Olympic Games and was first held in Essex in May 2022, and returned to the county for a second time in May 2023. In partnership between Essex County Council and RideLondon, the mass participation event saw over 23,000 cyclists take to the streets for the 60 and 100 mile event.

Essex was chosen for its close links with London and its rural landscape, as well as previously holding historic cycling events such as a Stage of the Tour de France in 2014 and Hadleigh Park Olympic Cycling in 2012. To build upon aspirations set out in the Fit for the Future strategy, it was Active Essex’s hope that the return of the major mass participation event, alongside two stages of the UCI Women’s World Tour; RideLondon Classique, would help inspire more Essex residents to get active.


Working collaboratively with London Marathon Events (LME); organisers of RideLondon and Essex County Council, Active Essex helped to deliver, ignite and maximise opportunities for communities across the route, encouraging residents to support riders, engage schools and inspire activity.

In addition to inspiring activity, the Ford RideLondon-Essex event brought many benefits to the county. The world-renowned event helped put Essex on the map, encouraging tourism and showcasing the rural and urban areas the county has to offer through various media outlets. The Sunday 100 mile ride can be seen as a big challenge for some, and therefore many riders took part to raise money for charity; one of which was The Active Essex Foundation.

As a result of Ford RideLondon-Essex coming to the county for a second year, it’s charity arm; The London Marathon Foundation, has injected £1.75 million into Essex since the partnership began in 2022, with over 200 initiatives, sessions and programmes set up to encourage residents to find the activity that’s right for them.

Read more about how the Ford RideLondon event has benefitted the county

Strengthening Communities

London Marathon Foundation

Inspiring activity across the county


Active Essex supported LME to deliver drop-in sessions across the county, in the lead up to the event weekend. These sessions were vital to ensure Essex communities felt engaged and informed about all impactful decisions made regarding the event, and to understand ways in which they may become more involved, in order to capitalise on the benefits. Working closely with local engagement officers, Active Essex produced a community toolkit, highlighting access to the Community Pitstop Fund and ideas on how to amplify and take part in local activation. As a result, businesses were supported in providing services to participants through funding and infrastructure across the route, and local charities had cheer zones in Epping and Ongar, to help raise funds and awareness.

Collaborative working from the start and changing the ways of working with ECC comms, Essex Highways, the Economic Growth Team etc, all accounted to a successful Ford RideLondon-Essex event. A Members Group was set up for Essex County Councillors, whereby an Active Essex team member was present. These meetings fully informed members of the event planning process and they were able to answer questions posed by peers or constituents alike. As a result of these meetings, there were less member enquiries coming through for responses, fewer resident complaints, and more local businesses were engaged due to improved advocacy of the event from County and District members.

drop in sessions held
local businesses engaged
community pitstops supported

Active Essex took on the role to activate communities, as well as engage schools either on or near the route across the three days. It was important to ensure that all impacted businesses, residents, communities and partners were informed of the activation taking place across the Ford RideLondon-Essex weekend. For both communities and schools, there were a plethora of activities available across the week including skate jams, banner competitions, family rides, FAN zones and festivals. These activations created a positive atmosphere, where residents were inspired to get involved, and it was great to see local businesses engaged too.

estimated unique spectators in Essex
school packs distributed
The mass participation event welcomes 25,000 cyclists

The Active Essex website became a hub of information detailing community activation areas. From sharing news stories of route announcements and spots to watch within activation zones, to blog stories on those participating and local cycling clubs and initiatives.

It was important for Active Essex to ensure content appealed to everyone throughout the county, whether they were interested in cycling or not. The hope was that this would encourage residents to come out and support across the weekend, and through highlighting local activation, it helped to showcase local initiatives, inspiring individuals to find something new to try or simply just increase their activity levels.

unique views on RL website pages
organic social media impressions
organic social media engagements

Through improved engagement and communication campaigns, community experiences have enhanced through the expansion of local activation opportunities to promote physical activity, support local businesses and meet local need. Due to the success and overall impact that Ford RideLondon-Essex has had on the county over the past two years, Essex County Council’s Political Leadership team has supported a 3 year agreement to continue to host the event until 2026.

We are looking forward to welcoming Ford RideLondon-Essex back to the county over the next three years. The event brings thousands of riders and visitors to Essex with many expressing a desire to return to the county after the event. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the county, inspire people to get fit and it raises millions of pounds for charity each year. We are always looking to improve the event and over the next few months we will be working closely with the local communities along the route to ensure the event continues to go from strength to strength and that the whole of the county benefits.
Cllr Lee Scott, Cabinet Member for Planning a Growing Economy

Key Learnings



Improved between organisations in the lead up to the 2023 event


Collaborative Approach

Led to higher levels of engagement with communities across Essex

Schools 1


Engaging schools along or near the route encouraged them to remain open