Bikeland will be a "noisy, in-your-face kind of place," says McGurn - BikeBiz

Bikeland will be a "noisy, in-your-face kind of place," says McGurn

The £33m cycle theme park planned for Derby "will not have a particularly green tinge," said the project's cycle consultant, Jim McGurn. But Bikeland would "put a lot of money directly into the UK cycle industry."
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Bikeland could be the first cycle theme park to open but others have been planned.

A recumbent-based theme park - Velo Nova - was mooted in 2002 and would have been sited in the Netherlands.

At the time of the project's launch, Velo Vision editor Peter Eland - who previously worked on Jim McGurn's Bike Culture Quarterly - welcomed the news about Velo Nova but cautioned that it could be a damp squib:

"It’s hard to know what to make of projects like Velo Nova. Is it a daft utopian ideal born of wishful thinking? Or a visionary idea which could become a showcase for pedal power? A high profile centre, supported by national and international bodies, could be a significant boost to the status of human power, the ‘forgotten energy’. It could also become an embarrassing white elephant, a freak-show of the weird and wacky in pedal power.

"But the purpose of Velo Nova is to be much more than a fun day out playing on silly bikes. It’s intended as a centre of cycle industry research and innovation, a resource for planners, companies and individuals trying to get into cycling, an educational centre and a forum for the exchange of ideas and inspiration. It goes beyond just cycling, too, looking at all sorts of sustainable transportation and human power.

"If it can be all of these things, and also a great day out, wet or dry, then they’ll have done cycling a huge service."

Jim McGurn is adamant Bikeland will steer away from the silly cycling approach. The £65 000 feasibility study is being produced by McGurn's Company of Cyclists and three mainstream companies with no involvement with bicycles.

"The lead company in the study advises on theme parks and leisure attractions all over the world, and operate successful ones of their own. They are primarily responsible for the numbers crunching and getting it right. They have got it right in the past, and we are working with them because their track record is one of success. If it won’t work they will say so and we will do something very modest in Derby.

"The other participants are a firm of architects specialising in major leisure parks, and the third partner-business specialises in raising finance."

Two of the companies involved with Bikeland were responsible for Conkers, a lottery-funded tree-themed adventure playground centre.

The partners share the £65 000 to progress the feasibility study but McGurn says the Company of Cyclists is not reliant on its share:

"We have a perfectly good, expanding, profitable business putting 38,000 newcomers to cycling on bikes every year: we don’t need to do Bikeland if it’s not good for cycling and not good for us."

The Company of Cyclists would be in charge of buying the bikes and advising on the cycle content of Bikeland:

"We are the most visible of the partners to the cycling world, but our role at this stage is largely restricted to content and interface with the cycle industry, to help make Bikeland as exciting as possible, and then with the cycling world generally," said McGurn.

"If it goes ahead, [Bikeland] will not have a particularly green tinge. The public are not interested in that. It will incorporate many exciting elements of cycle sport, and be a pretty noisy, in-your-face kind of place."

McGurn wants the UK bike trade to embrace Bikeland:

"We approach the project with circumspection and modesty, and need the support, advice and partnership of the cycle industry to make it as good as it possibly can be. We need that help from them at this early stage. If Bikeland goes ahead in any substantial way it will put a lot of money directly into the UK cycle industry."

http://www.visitconkers.com/

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