£15 million in new funding will create and improve existing traffic-free cycle-sport facilities around England. The announcement was made today at the Leeds Urban Bike Park. The cash will be delivered through Sport England.
As well as a capital fund for building new facilities and improving existing ones there will also be a grants fund for buying new equipment, such as bikes and helmets.
British Cycling’s head of recreation Jill Puttnam told BikeBiz that the application criteria for the getting access to the funding is still being worked on, but that it may be possible for a bike shop to apply to build, say, a connected pump track. However, it’s expected that most of the funding will go to clubs or community interest companies.
The investment programme has been described as a legacy programme linked with the 2019 UCI Road World Championships which will be staged over nine days in Yorkshire next September. Yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a video message at the routes announcement for what is billed the UK’s biggest sporting event in 2019.
The plan is to create more "local, traffic-free facilities across the country where people can cycle confidently and safely", said a Government statement.
Dimension Data Scott Thwaites was part of the launch event, held in the sort of bike park planned to be built elsewhere in the UK.
“I’m a proud Yorkshireman," said Thwaites, "so having venues such as Leeds Urban Bike Park open up in the region and do so well is fantastic.
“People of all ages and backgrounds up and down the country are making the most of facilities like this."
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said: "Our £15 million investment in cycling facilities across the UK will further boost the sport at the grassroots and encourage more people to take part and get active."
Strategy director of British Cycling Martin Merryweather added: “Transforming Britain into a great cycling nation is at the absolute core of our mission and funding for facilities is paramount to ensuring we fulfil this aim."
Next year’s UCI Road World Championships will be staged 22nd-29th September, with Harrogate hosting the finish of every race. The races will also visit Bradford, Leeds, and Doncaster.
The Leeds Urban Bike Park has been open since December 2017 – it took over a rundown golf club house; yes, cycling is the new golf – and is owned by Cycle Pathway CIC leasing buildings from Leeds City Council. 200,000 riders have experienced the park since it opened. As well as a pump track, a tarmac family-loop and an MTB trail there’s also a BMX track on the park. The centre cost £1.2 million to build.
Puttnam said that the Leeds Urban Bike Park was a perfect example of the type of facility that Sport England, via British Cycling, will be looking to fund.
The centre has a large cafe and rental facility as well as a small bike shop selling new and secondhand bikes and accessories. The park was recently a finalist in Singletrack’s trailcentre of the year awards.