BOURNEMOUTH is staging a free ‘Sky Ride’ for a predicted 5,000 to 7,000 people through the town centre on July 24.

The event has been organised with Sky and British Cycling and similar events have been staged around the country.

They are mass participation events, open to riders of all ages and abilities, and are supposed to encourage more cycling.

A star British cyclist like Victoria Pendleton or Sir Chris Hoy will take part alongside a celebrity backer like Alexandra Burke or Lorraine Kelly.

The final route is yet to be decided but it is understood to be shorter than the 8km Sky Ride average.

An event spokesman said people can register beforehand or on the day and they expected 5-7,000 people to take part.

Cllr David Smith, a central ward member and a keen cyclist, said: “We’ll try and have one next year with a longer route.

“But I’m delighted we’ve got it.”

Last year there were 12 rides around the country and one held in Southampton on a six-mile circuit attracted 10,000 people.

Mike Chalkey, a Moordown resident and chairman of the Bournemouth Cycling Forum, said: “Although these things are good there’s not enough emphasis on building the infrastructure that makes people think, ‘I won’t take my car, I will take my bike’.”

Lindley Owen, public health consultant for Bournemouth and Poole PCT, originally raised the idea with Poole and Bournemouth councils.

Cllr Michael Filer, cabinet member for transport, said: “Once people have enjoyed getting back on their bikes, they can spend the summer enjoying the wealth of cycle routes Bournemouth has to offer.”

Bournemouth is also hosting a series of Breeze social bike rides aimed at women and the town’s 250m outdoor Olympic sized cycling track opened at Slades Farm last Saturday.

l HUNDREDS of cyclists will take to the roads for the 23rd Macmillan Dorset Bike Ride tomorrow.

They leave Corfe Mullen recreation ground between 8am and 11am and head towards Wimborne, returning via Lytchett Matravers.

Drivers are asked to be particularly vigilant as cyclists cross the main roads and Red Post near Bere Regis, and the A350 at Lytchett Matravers and Spetisbury.

The Daily Echo-backed cycle Sunday has a route to suit everyone with six circuits from 10 miles to 100.

Visit to find out how to enter.