£33m bicycle try-out centre mooted for Derby

Jim McGurn of the Company of Cyclists had the idea for a large-scale bicycle try-out centre ten years ago. Part of his dream was put into reality at Doncaster's Earth Centre, which closed October 2004, but with cash and a fair-wind a full-on, pedal-powered Bikeland would be more than just a test track and a fleet of roadsters and recumbents, it would be the world's first cycling theme-park.
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Motormouth Jeremy Clarkson said The Earth Centre, an eco theme park in the Don Valley, was a waste of millennium lottery money and an eyesore. Just think then, what he'd make of Bikeland...

McGurn believes Bikeland could be up and running by 2008. He's helping with a £65 000 feasibility study charged with looking at the commercial worth of the project. The Derby and Derbyshire Economic Partnership provided £45 000 for the study, with Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council stumping up £10 000 each. A business plan could be delivered by April.

Bikeland would be a mix between The Earth Centre and the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales but totally bicycle based, a Rutland Water Cycling without the lake.

McGurn has been enthusiastic about his Bikeland concept since before the days of Bike Culture Quarterly, an 'alternatives in cycling' magazine that majored on recumbents, trailers, family bikes and similar.

McGurn and his company were the human-powered vehicle consultants to Doncaster's The Earth Centre, a £50m, 250-acre regeneration project far away from the tourist honeypots that are the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

The lottery-backed Earth Centre went into administration on New Year's Eve, although the centre could be rescued by Morston Assets, a company owned by Kwikfit's Sir Tom Farmer.

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