Riders across Thailand take to their bikes to celebrate the 83rd birthday of Queen Sirikit. Photograph: Madaree Tohlala/AFP/Getty Images
Riders across Thailand take to their bikes to celebrate the 83rd birthday of Queen Sirikit. Photograph: Madaree Tohlala/AFP/Getty Images

Thailand’s crown prince has led thousands of cyclists through the streets of the capital in a tribute to his mother, Queen Sirikit, to mark her 83rd birthday. The high-profile event on Sunday, broadcast live by all public television stations, was also an exercise in palace public relations at a time of concern about the royal succession in Thailand.

Roads were closed along the route of what was dubbed “Bike for Mom”, which transformed typically traffic-clogged Bangkok – for a day at least – into a cyclists’ paradise. Among the riders were the prime minister, his cabinet, celebrities and other VIPs. Similar rides took place in other provinces, led by local officials. “This is a historic event for Thailand,” the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, said before the ride.

It was billed as the largest organised bicycle ride ever conducted in Thailand, and Prayuth said authorities hoped to set a world record for a national bike parade. Organisers said 40,000 people registered for the event in Bangkok and more than 250,000 registered for rides held across the country. “The event will also showcase to the world how devoted Thais are to their queen,” Prayuth said.