Funding squeeze threatens children's cycling initiative

Cycle Derby has put over 2000 kids on bikes but future in doubt

Despite getting 2,200 children cycling to school every day - the largest rate of increase in cycling outside of London - the Cycle Derby scheme is under threat due to funding cuts.

The scheme was set up after Derby was named as one of the first six UK Cycling Demonstration Towns in 2005. But official funding for the Cycling Demonstration project ended in April this year and cash is running out with activities already being scaled back. If the Cycle Derby project misses out on Bikeability funding next year it seems the whole legacy of the scheme could fade away.

Speaking to BikeRadar, Cycle Derby’s Mark Smith outlined the wide range of activities underpinning their impressive statistical roll call that has seen cycling to school levels rise from 4% to 7% over the life of the scheme.

"We put together a package to cater for children right from the early years right through to key stage 4 (14-16 year olds). We also did Bikeability training, Scootability (aiming to get anyone from toddlers to adults to scooter to school!) and offered after-school clubs for every primary, junior and secondary school in Derby as well as holiday cycling activities and much more. There are also links to community clubs and we’ve even written a PE GCSE so kids can do cycling as part of the official curriculum. There is a huge demand for all this – every single course for kids I’ve put on for kids this summer has been fully booked within the first four days. We are inundated."

Mark was also adamant about the long term legacy they set out to achieve;  "All this translates to adults that may want to choose a bike and not the car – it should have an impact ten years down the line. What I am doing now is looking at ways to bring in money so we can continue to do all the things we do. As it stands at the moment, if the government don’t see fit to provide the £40 a head for Bikeability to our organisation then everything we do will stop."

Other original Cycling Demonstration Towns that have failed to secure further central government funding are Lancaster and Aylesbury. A 2009 report was very positive about the overall progress of all Cycling Demonstration towns.

The pot of money Derby recently bid unsuccessfully for is known as the Local Sustainable Travel Fund, which has awarded the first round of some £560 million to only 37 local councils throughout England to cover green travel initiatives - including cycling - up to 2015.

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