Last month saw the opening of Ireland’s first ever outdoor ‘Learn to Cycle’ track, a ground-breaking initiative to help young children to learn how to ride a bike in a safe and enjoyable way.
Dungarvan’s newest active amenity
The completion of the €50,000 development, located in Dungarvan in Co. Waterford, has been hailed as a watershed moment. The track features a ‘mock road’ complete with road markings, signs and even a pedestrian crossing – allowing children to pedal their way to real-life road cycling success without the worries of traffic.
The emphasis on safety is a large reason why the park has been so warmly welcomed by parents of young children who are preparing for life on the bike, and the complex also includes an immersive training area aimed at those who are taking their very first spins in the saddle.
Peter Jones of Waterford Sports Partnership says: “The educational area is the biggest bespoke thing for us. We can take preschools to deliver balance bike training so young children can learn fundamental movement skills. This is a great way to show children, ‘this is a pedestrian crossing, this is a junction, etc’, and give them that guided discovery to learn the rules of the road in a danger-free zone.”
Another feature of the area is the use of interactive learning for both children and adults alike; QR codes are utilised to assist with parents coaching their own children, and the features a series of practical instructional videos.
A true community-led initiative, the park is open to all – a major focus of Waterford Sports Partnership and Waterford City & County Council throughout its design and implementation. The prospect of a host of courses, including cycle safety, balance bike training, disability cycling, and Cycle Right, highlight the diverse nature of the amenity and its capacity to serve more than just the little ones.
Indeed, partnering with Cycling Ireland, the Road Safety Authority and the local Active Travel area has paved the way for extensive future plans – as Peter reveals. “We’re installing a Performance Area next, and this should be open in March or April 2022. A BMX pump track and skate park will also be opened by the end of the year, and we’re looking at creating an Outdoor Gym in 2023. This area is for all ages, whether you are two or ninety-two!”
Beyond the track
The location of the park also makes it the perfect choice for cycling enthusiasts of all ages and stages, with the spectacular Waterford Greenway only a stone’s throw away. The greenway provides 46km of uninterrupted car-free track, making it a glorious passage to pedal on for those who’ve got up to speed.
In the meantime, the ‘Learn to Cycle’ park will continue to prepare aspiring riders for the road ahead. “It really isn’t a complicated initiative to bring to life,” Peter says. “But the value for money that everyone gets from a concept like this is invaluable; we should all be promoting healthy and active lifestyles.”
With Wexford county councillors already advocating for their own ‘Learn to Cycle’ track, it seems that we will be seeing similar amenities popping up around the country – and sooner rather than later!
You can find out more information on Dungarvan’s recreation park by visiting the Waterford Sports Partnership website. The project was part funded by the Local Government Fund and the Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation administered by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Works were completed by local contractors Richard Forristal Ltd.
Are you feeling inspired and looking to get your children involved in the cycling cheer? Check out our guide on bike options!
Images by Waterford Sports Partnership and Waterford City & County Council