‘Where can I bring my child to cycle safely in town?’
It’s a question I often get asked and I struggle for an answer.
In 2017, I came across a link to a newly opened Children’s road safety cycling track from Nottingham, England.
This is basically a miniature road system which helps teach children up to around 12 years old, about bike safety and road safety.
The course would typically include zebra crossings, roundabouts, junctions and even working traffic lights.
As a cycle right trained cycling instructor, I felt that this would be great for getting children cycling, making them aware of the dangers on the road and helping them to understand how to cycle safely in a fun and engaging way, without the parental stress of doing so in areas with potential motor traffic.
To give you some idea as to what this can look like, please take a look at the clip below from a similar area in Denmark. (Interestingly, this one from Denmark goes around a playground while the Nottingham one is a stand-alone facility so there are plenty of design options).
Further scrutiny of the Nottingham project revealed a cost £135,000 which is not an insignificant sum but I felt that this would be a perfect fit for Min Ryan Park which was in its design stages then.
I went about lobbying to have this included in plans for Min Ryan Park and unfortunately I wasn’t successful in that regard.
I did get a promise initially that this road safety fun cycling facility had been included in the plans for the park when WexBUG had our meeting with the council in 2019, but we were told that funding could be an issue.
I subsequently asked the council to set an area aside in the park where the project could have been undertaken at a future date when funds under the many schemes that could have been applied for could be secured.
This got as far as the council’s special projects team but due to time constraints couldn’t be progressed further in the short term.
Unfortunately, looking at the park map below this area doesn’t appear to have been set aside which disappoints me.
The plans for the park itself look great but there will be a little bit of me left with unfinished business when this fantastic facility opens in April.
This would have been a one of a kind project for Ireland and wouldn’t it have been wonderful if it was Wexford that showed the ambition to bring such a project to the fore?
I feel that this is an opportunity lost, not for me personally (my kids have long flown the nest) but for the many parents looking for something different, somewhere safe to teach a child a lifelong skill.
I’m not done with this yet though and will seek further opportunities to engage with some of our excellent local councillors to bring this to our wonderful town.
Phil Skelton – Chairperson WexBUG.