FORMER Olympian Chris Boardman was the special guest at the opening of a new £70,000 learners’ cycle circuit in Tameside to support more children and adults to enjoy using bikes.
Tameside Cycle Trax, based at Bennett Street Youth Centre, Hyde, looks like a giant children’s play mat featuring a road layout and has been developed by the council to offer schools, clubs and the wider community opportunities from learning to ride a bike to improving skills and confidence.Hyde Newton councillor Peter Robinson was the driving force as he helped secured Section 106 funding from developers Northern Trust who were building homes in the area.
Cllr Leanne Feeley, Tameside Council executive member for lifelong learning, equalities, culture and heritage, described it as a “brilliant” concept.
She said: Hopefully events like the Tour of Britain will inspire and excite people to get on their bikes.
“If they can learn the rules of the road at somewhere like here hopefully it will give confidence to venture out on to the roads.”
The ultimate aim is to get more people of all ages regularly using their bikes as a sustainable and healthy means of transport.
The track, run by Tameside Council Youth Service, includes roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and other common road features, markings and signage to mimic the highway and provide budding cyclists with the opportunity to practice in a safe environment.Various activities are on offer including bikeability training, bike health checks, fleet bikes for those who don’t have their own bike and adapted cycles for young people who have a disability.
The youth service will also organise ride to school days for any schools that book a training package.
Greater Manchester cycling and walking commissioner and Olympic gold medal winner Mr Boardman attended the opening of the track alongside Cllr Feeley and Cllr Robinson, who helped to secure external funding for the project.
Chris said: “If we want thousands more people to get on bikes and leave their cars at home, we need to ensure they have the confidence to give cycling a try.
“Facilities like Tameside Cycle Trax will play a role in helping people take that first step, by giving residents the experience they need to use the region’s Bee Network as it comes online.”
Cllr Feeley added: “We have long been passionate about cycling and our youth service runs lots of ongoing cycling events and activities.
“However, we realised there are many children who still can’t ride a bike and, if we really want to support cycling as a sustainable and healthy method of transport, we needed to do more to skill up and empower our children.
“Tameside Cycle Trax provides a fun and safe means to give them the skills, knowledge and confidence to use and enjoy bikes more and make cycling a habit for a lifetime.”
The track is open for all young people to use every Tuesday evening, no need to book. Schools and clubs can call Melissa Hopwood on 0161 342 3799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss requirements.