An underused concrete amphitheatre in Liverpool has been converted into the city’s first purpose-built children’s learn-to-ride facility.
In Everton Park, a group of young children launched the “Mini-Roads” scheme, taking the first laps of a new cycle track designed to resemble a realistic road layout with junctions and crossings.
The £380,000 scheme, funded by Liverpool City Council’s Active Travel Fund and Section 106 funds, as well as British Cycling’s Places to Ride scheme, is a half-kilometer-long facility designed to attract and encourage thousands of young people to take up cycling.
Dowhigh Ltd., a highways contractor, completed the Mini-Roads scheme in collaboration with Cemex and Shell Construction and Road. This is the first large-scale application trial of Shell’s Bitumen CarbonSink, a new bio-component binder that locks carbon into asphalt to reduce carbon footprint.
The project will include the installation of railings, tables, and benches, as well as new carbon-friendly asphalt and soft-play surfacing, to provide a year-round community asset. These projects will be finished by Autumn.
The new facility, which will primarily serve children aged two to seven, is part of Liverpool City Council’s goal of becoming a UNICEF-designated child-friendly city. It is also an important component of the city council’s active travel and clean air strategies, and it will connect with the existing cycle network in the city’s north to allow other cyclists to use the scheme.
In addition to the Mini-Roads project, work on a new cycle lane connecting Everton Park to nearby routes has begun, with the city council planning to build six permanent new cycle lanes across Liverpool.
The new learn-to-ride facility will be open to the public, including those who use adaptive cycles.
The city council has partnered with the non-profit community organisation Peloton Liverpool, which already operates the BMX track in Everton Park, to host and deliver a five-year cycle session programme at the facility.
Peloton Liverpool will be provided with a container, workshop tools, balance bikes, and associated accessories as part of the agreement.
Other key elements of Liverpool’s Active Travel programme this summer include:
- A year-long scheme to improve 30 access points along the Liverpool Loop Line, which runs 16km through the city from Halewood to Aintree, is set to complete.
- Liverpool City Council is also conducting a public consultation on a new permanent active travel corridor to Childwall. The consultation, which ends on 31 July, also features proposals for new and improved footways, pedestrian crossing facilities and landscaping.
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.”
Liverpool’s Active Travel programme is also currently delivering six new permanent corridors, with the design brief for a further upgrade to The Strand in the city centre set to go out to tender later this summer.