Work has begun to transform an underused concrete amphitheatre into Liverpool’s first purpose-built children’s learn-to-ride facility.
The £330,000 “Mini-Roads” scheme will see the creation of a new cycle track, situated in Everton Park, which has been designed to imitate a realistic road layout, with junctions and crossings.
Funded by both Liverpool City Council, using Section 106 monies, and British Cycling, via its Places to Ride scheme, the half a kilometre long facility aims to attract and encourage thousands of youngsters to get cycling.
Highways contractor Dowhigh Ltd has been appointed by the city council to deliver the mini-roads project, which as well as new surface works, will see the installation of railings, tables and benches, new asphalt and soft-play surfacing to provide an all-year round community asset.
The scheme, which will focus primarily on children aged two-seven, is a key element in the city council’s active travel and clean air strategies and it will also link up to the existing cycle network in the north of the city.
As well as the Mini-Roads project, work on a new cycle lane to connect Everton Park to nearby routes is also set to start later this month, with the city council set to deliver a further six permanent new cycle lanes across Liverpool throughout 2023.
The new learn-to-ride facility, which already has planning permission, is set to open by Easter and will be publicly accessible, including for those with adaptive cycles.
The city council has joined forces with the not-for-profit community organisation Peloton Liverpool – which already operates the BMX track in Everton Park – to host and deliver a programme of cycle sessions at the facility over the next five years.
As part of the agreement, Peloton Liverpool will be provided with a container, workshop tools, balance bikes and associated accessories to host the cycling sessions.
Cllr Dan Barrington, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Highways, said, “We want Liverpool to be a great cycling city, and to do that we need to provide facilities which encourage our youngsters to get on their bike and develop a life-long habit of enjoying being on two wheels.
“This Mini-Roads project is going to provide a fantastic learning experience for our children to become confident riding around the city. This is a long-term investment which should benefit many thousands of children in the decade to come.
“I’m delighted it’s being created in Everton Park as it will provide a great boost to the infrastructure and pro-cycling environment that is already flourishing there, thanks to organisations like Peloton Liverpool and its connections to local schools and community groups in and around north Liverpool.
“As we all as this Mini-Roads facility, we’re also connecting the park through a new active travel scheme under our Highways Investment Programme which will ensure families from across the city can cycle to and from their homes using our existing cycle network.
“There’s also more cycle lanes to come this year and by the end of 2023, the options to travel by bike in Liverpool will be hugely more attractive than they were just a few years ago before the pandemic caused us all to rethink how we get about the city and around our neighbourhoods. There’s more to do, but the jigsaw pieces are beginning to fall into place which will have a huge impact on people’s health and Liverpool’s air quality.”
Daniel Robinson, Managing Director of Peloton, said, “The primary purpose of the Mini-Roads is to support the early learning for young riders and be useful and attractive to people that need a safer place to learn to ride, practice or build confidence.
“Alongside offering the general public a unique facility we’ve been working with local schools to develop fun and learning opportunities for primary school age children as well show them how a bike can be used for more than just fun.
“The Mini-Roads will be the best of its kind in the North West, reanimating a fantastic space, a facility worthy of Everton Park and it’s community. Thanks to Liverpool City Council and British Cycling for keeping this idea alive throughout the pandemic.”
Rob Pickering, North West Regional Manager from British Cycling, said, “We’re delighted that British Cycling, as the National Governing Body for cycling in the UK, has been able to support and co-fund alongside Sport England’s Places to Ride fund and Liverpool City Council’s capital programme, this fantastic new learn to ride cycling facility at Everton Park.
“It is class leading and offers a significant new dimension to the facilities already offered in the park.
“The learn to ride facility will introduce many people, particularly children and young people, to cycling for the first time, help them learn to ride and experience the joy of cycling in a safe, off-road environment. It will hopefully allow them to make cycling a key part of their lives for many years to come.
“We’ve been delighted to work with the city and its stakeholders to bring this to reality.”
Image: An underused part of Everton Park is to be transformed into Liverpool’s first learn-to-ride facility