The Victoria Park Project has been successful in its bid to the British Cycling ‘Places to Ride’ fund, which means existing plans in the park for a bike dirt track will be upgraded to a pump track.

Delivered through a unique partnership between British Cycling, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Sport England, the Places to Ride programme has made £15 million available to ensure a lasting legacy in England from the 2019 UCI Road World Championships. The championships took place in Yorkshire in September 2019.

Thanks to the success of the Ashford Borough Council’s bid as well as funding from the Department of Transport the project will now be able to make the following improvements in Victoria Park: 

  • Mock road markings for a dedicated learn to ride space 
  • New cycle stands around the park 
  • Seating/viewing space near the pump track 
  • 100m “sprint” track markings 
  • Research into and celebration of the local heritage surrounding “Norman Nippies” 
  • Consultation with local young people in the design of the pump track, 
  • Aspirations for a “Go-ride” club, a “Breeze” ride group, and engagement programmes for schools, homeschooling groups and local BAME and LGBTQ+ communities
  • Plans for regular “Ripper” time trials for 4-11year-olds, “Cyclo-cross” events for 9-16 year olds, and Pump Track Races run by British Cycling. 

The pump track will provide a space for youth recreation in the park. It is the project’s hope that they will use this space alongside younger children and adults who share an interest in cycling, creating an opportunity for intergenerational skill and hobby sharing in the community.

Cllr Matthew Forest portfolio holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure at Ashford Borough Council said:  “These combined funds will allow us to upgrade the dirt bike track to a pump track, which will reduce ongoing maintenance costs, provide a longer-lasting facility and open up the track to a wider variety of users.”

“The track will also provide a youth-focus for the space which complements the emphasis the project places on engaging with young people. Our aim is to help them relate to and feel ownership for Ashford’s biggest and oldest urban park.”

Andy Farr, Head of Business Planning and Transformation at British Cycling, added: “Ashford Borough Council is doing great work to get more people cycling in Ashford, so we are pleased to support their efforts to bring the community together through Places to Ride.”

“As we enter the final period of allocating grants through the fund, we are incredibly proud to see how it has already enabled so many people from a range of backgrounds – regardless of age, gender, ability or ethnicity – to get involved with cycling.”

Charles Johnston, Sport England Director of Property continued: “Sport England is proud to be delivering, in partnership with British Cycling, the single biggest government investment into community cycling facilities the country has seen in recent years.

“The investment will provide more facilities such as tracks and bike centres, where people can ride confidently and safely as well as access to essential equipment they need to have a go.”

The bid included support from a number of local stakeholders including local Councillors through Member Grants scheme, the Friends of Victoria Park, Sk8side Youth Centre, local cycling clubs and five-time Cyclo Cross National Champion (and Ashford resident) Ian Field.

Sk8side are so enthusiastic about the idea they have proactively set up their own support group for the Pump Track plans and are already engaging with the Victoria Park Project’s Youth Involvement Co-ordinator to get involved. 

By Ed

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