‘Cycle hubs’ may be central to Tour de France legacy as city debate mooted

A trio of Leeds “cycle hubs” are being developed as the city rolls towards a firm strategy for a cycling future.

Chris Froome at the start of of the first stage of the Tour de France in Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Leeds City Council (LCC) has revealed that sites around Fearnville Leisure Centre, south Leeds’s Middleton Park and John Charles Centre for Sport as well as one in north Leeds have been earmarked to promote and host led cycle rides, training, access to equipment and activities as part of a plans to make the most of the Tour de France Grand Depart’s July visit to the city.

The proposals form part of a report, outlining Leeds’s progress in developing cycling and maintaining the two-wheeled momentum of Le Tour, which will be discussed by the authority’s sustainable economy and culture scrutiny board on January 13.

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Plans to further build on the success of Le Tour’s first visit to Yorkshire include setting up a Cycling Starts Here Programme Board, which will put together a three-year cycling action plan and longer term cycling strategy.

A £50,000 cash injection will help finalise the members of the soon-to-be-set-up board, bring in a “specialist cycling consultant” and conduct a “city debate” to help develop a long term strategy and investment plan.

The report states: “Sustaining and increasing present levels of funding will be an ongoing challenge for the city and its partners.

“Looking to London and elsewhere in Europe – for example Denmark – a 20-year investment strategy would not be unreasonable for creating cycle networks capable of attracting five per cent or more journeys by cycle.

“There will also be the challenge of supporting a sporting and recreational legacy.”

Of the potential cycling hubs, council officers state progress is already being made at Fearnville, talks are underway about running mountain biking around the former Middleton Golf Course and road cycling around the John Charles Centre for Sport’s road network, while discussions are ongoing with British Cycling over investment in a “regional cycle centre” in north Leeds. The centre would include a 1.5km closed road cycling circuit and would be a joint project between LCC, British Cycling and the University of Leeds. The report also mentions the possibility of a smaller closed road circuit in south Leeds.

Meanwhile an agreement is being sought over the next Leeds Sky Ride event, which could take place on June 14, alongside 50 Sky Ride Locals. Plans for a “Leeds Velofest” are also being discussed, which could work around the Sky Ride event and include an elite cycling element similar to the annual Ride London.

The council also hopes more than double the 5,800 Bikeability training courses will be delivered next year in city schools, the Tour de Yorkshire will help keep the focus on cycling from May 1 to 3, while a repeat of the Leeds School Cycle Challenge that saw 550 local children cycle around Temple Newsam prior to the Tour de France is being planned.