Hawkenbury Pump Track ‘Design’ supported by KCC!
In the later part of 2019, the Hawkenbury Village Association applied for a Combined Members Community Grant offered by KCC. The grant application was made in order to provide a funding contribution towards the pump track design document required for a formal planning application.
KCC were looking for the grant application to cover the following strategic outcomes
Strategic Outcome One: Children and young people in Kent get their best start in life. Helping children and young people have better physical and mental health
Strategic Outcome Two: Kent communities feel the benefits of economic growth by being in-work, healthy and enjoying a good quality of life. Improving physical and mental health by supporting people to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. Helping Kent’s residents to enjoy a good quality of life, and more people benefit from greater social, cultural and sporting opportunities
The ethos of the pump track was deemed in line with these goals and so the grant application was successful.
The justification put forward was as follows;
It is well known that the popularity of cycling has increased hugely in the last 10 years, in some part due to the success of the British cycling teams in the proceeding Olympics. But also because it is a great way for children and adults to actively increase fitness levels, reduce the chances of obesity and improve mental health 1, 2. With the increasing draw of mobile phones, computer games and social media it is good for young people to have another outlet to burn energy.
Government statistics show that 42% of the UK population aged 5 and over, own or have access to a bicycle 3. If you assume Tunbridge Wells mirrors this statistic, then up to 25,000 people potentially have access to a bicycle in the town alone. With more traffic on the roads and the implied safety concerns this has increased the need for dedicated areas in urban environments for people to cycle in. At the Hawkenbury Recreation ground the only legitimate facility available for cycling is the small cycling loop in the children’s play area which is only really suitable for very young children. There is nothing for the over fives apart from the footpaths or playing field areas (not practical in the wet). There is an old bylaw in place that restricts cycling (and other wheeled items) in the recreation ground although it is not rigorously enforced. This does lead to conflicts between walkers and those on bicycles, scooters or roller blades when the two meet on the foot paths.
Pump tracks are an increasingly popular solution as a safe place for use of bicycles and other wheeled sports activities in urban areas. They provide users with a free to use facility where the only requirement is access to a bicycle. A pump track is a dirt or tarmac strip about 1.5m wide that winds its way around a specified loop (approx. 150m long) which contains rollers and berms (corners). The idea is that as you traverse the course on your bicycle you ‘pump’ the bike on the downside of the rollers to generate forward momentum. The more proficient the rider gets the more speed can be generated the more timing and coordination are needed. The layout of the course ensures all features are rollable which means that absolute beginners on a balance bikes can safely navigate the course. As the skills of the riders increase their imagination is the only limit to how the track can be ridden linking features together. This means the appeal of a well-designed pump track is long lasting and keeps everyone interested. Another advantage of a pump track is it can be used by riders with scooters, roller skates or skateboards as the pumping technique can be applied to each discipline, but for it to work for these riders it must be a tarmac surface. A tarmac pump track is advantageous because it can cover many different user groups of many different ages. On top of being great fun, riding a pump track is great for fitness and teaches bicycle handling skills and coordination.
The Hawkenbury Village Association (HVA) have identified through their members that the recreation ground needs a dedicated area for cycling as this is currently not catered for. As the recreation ground expands and the new houses and school are built this will increase the number of users. A dedicated area for cycling linked by proper cycle paths will keep pedestrians and cyclists apart. Currently it is also a fact that teenagers are not as well catered for in the recreation ground, a pump track would provide another sporting option for them.
The Hawkenbury Village Association has been discussing the pump track with the Parks team and Councillors and a plot of land currently unused in the recreation ground has been identified where a pump track could be built. The next stage is for the HVA to employ a contractor to prepare a design suitable for a planning application. This is what the CMG Community grant is requested to cover, it is proposed that the construction of the pump track is funded by the section 106 money available from the Hollyfields housing development.
The HVA have also been in contact with British Cycling who are running a grant scheme called ‘Places to Ride’ the HVA plans to apply for a grant to support the construction of the track should a planning application be successful.
3 – https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/nts06-age-gender-and-modal-breakdown (NTS0608 Bicycle Ownership by Age – England)
The HVA thanks Councillor Catherine Rankin for her support and advise in getting the pump track design to this stage and for recommending the pump track design be worthy of KCC funding.
The next stage for the pump track the HVA will carry out a focused consultation with residents most effected by the pump track in its potential locations.