As cycling’s popularity grows, so does the need for new facilities to support and encourage higher levels of participation in one of the most accessible, healthy, green and social activities there is.
In the same way that the introduction of all-weather pitches resulted in a huge increase in grassroots football, the development of traffic-free Closed Road Circuit (CRC’s), as they are known, is having the same impact for cycling and other wheeled sports. There are around 20 facilities already located across the UK, their purpose is not only about supporting high performance and elite level cycling, but also directed to encouraging participation in wheeled sports for leisure, sport, coaching, training, and competitions.
There are numerous reasons why people aren’t comfortable riding on the open road. It is often intimidating and at times a dangerous place for the young or novice cyclist to gain confidence, learn new skills and improve fitness. The purpose of a CRC is to tackle these barriers by removing a reliance on the open road and provides a safe place to go on a regular basis during the day and evenings. And even where there is a rural network of quiet lanes and traffic free paths outside of towns and cities, these are mainly a resource for recreation, they are not always suitable for coaching and learning basic bike handling skills.
CRC’s are usually between 1km and 1.5km in length and to ‘the person on the street’ appears very much like a road circuit, although they are designed to British Cycling’s standards for daytime and evening use and can’t be used by vehicles. The circuits are often located to take advantage of existing facilities at nearby leisure centres and schools. CRC’s should be designed to be ‘active environments’ that attract children, young people, adults and the mature cyclist from across a wide catchment area. Of course, it’s not all about the bike, in addition to cycling, other wheeled sports such as rollerblading, roller skiing, wheelchair sports can take place on the circuit, as well as running.
Through the £15m Sport England and British Cycling’s Places to Ride fund announced earlier this year there are opportunities to invest in transformational cycling facilities across England, and in Wales, Welsh Cycling and Sport Wales have been investing more funds into similar projects.
For several years Owen Davies Consulting has been preparing detailed feasibility, site option appraisals, business plan, funding strategies and masterplanning new CRC’s in England and Wales. Planning permission was granted in May 2017 for our first scheme in Hereford (prospectus link) and we are working on a new proposal for Abergavenny (see article)
We are no ordinary consultants – on our days off we are qualified British Cycling coaches, cycling fans, racers and activists!