Next up in our series of articles showcasing the latest local government innovation from the Chambers Ireland 2022 Excellence in Local Government Awards, we hear about Ireland’s first outdoor learn to cycle track from Waterford City and County Council.
In January 2022, Ireland’s first and Dungarvan’s newest amenity area was officially opened with the addition of an outdoor ‘Learn to Cycle’ track.
The Learn to Cycle track has allowed young children to learn to cycle on a ‘real life’ road structure with lines, signs and pedestrian crossing without the traffic – with the aim of teaching young people how to cycle on the country’s roads with added 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.
This amenity at Fairlane added to existing play facilities at the Linear Park, which includes slides, swings and climbing frames, along with water fountains with bird feeding points which are a firm favourite with young and old.
A smart travel town
Dungarvan is a ‘Smarter Travel’ town. This means that Waterford City and County Council uses a holistic approach, in that promoting the safe use of cycling teaches children life skills which long-term, can encourage the use of sustainable transport and reduce future over-dependence on cars.
The popular park is situated close to the hugely popular and populated Waterford Greenway, onto which children will undoubtedly graduate, having developed their skills and awareness in a safe environment.
The track has proven very popular with creches and pre-schools as they use the facility as part of RSA programmes like Simon and Friends and Road Safety Awareness week events.
At the time of the opening, Chair of Dungarvan / Lismore District Cllr. Tom Cronin highlighted how important such civic amenities are to our towns, villages and communities.
“People have a new appreciation of the outdoors, and the numbers using such amenities are continuously growing. This new cycle track will give those who are new to cycling a chance to test out their wheels on a purpose-built track. It will be great to see people using this new amenity here at Fairlane Park in a safe and family-friendly environment.”
Kieran Kehoe, Director of Services and Dungarvan Town Manager commented,
“This amenity is so accessible within the town centre and is easily reachable from all surrounding areas. Waterford City and County Council, in promoting the safe use of cycling, will enable children to learn a life skill which will encourage the use of sustainable transport methods and move from over reliance on cars as their only method of transport which will benefit the climate and the environment. Cycling around Dungarvan has never been safer.
“Waterford City and County Council is delighted to have received this award and to be recognised by Chambers Ireland for its commitment in developing Dungarvan as a ‘Smarter Travel’ town,”
The next phase of the development, a Performance Area was at an advanced stage of construction when the Learn to Cycle Track was opened. When completed in July 2022, the recreation park included a BMX Pump Track and Skatepark.
Having been constructed in just under nine weeks Dungarvan Skatepark was officially opened by Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. John O’Leary. The skatepark is suited to skateboarders, rollerbladers, BMXers and scooter riders of all ages, skills and styles.
Over the past 15 years, many groups and individuals had been calling for the provision of a skatepark in Dungarvan. Building on this work Dungarvan Skatepark c.l.g. was established to bring this wonderful amenity to fruition.
The 600m2 facility is constructed in concrete and combines elements of bowl and street plaza features. It has been designed with the specific needs of skateboarders in mind with input from Waterford Comhairle na nÓg and local skateboarders.
The input from the skateboarders was very much taken on board and today the skaters can effortlessly complete their ollies, frontside 180s, laser flips and kick flips in the bowl section, while at the street plaza area, skaters and riders can negotiate street obstacles such as stairs, railings and benches.
Speaking of the Learn to Cycle Track, Peter Jones, Waterford Sports Partnership also commented,
“This is an innovative and exciting venture from Waterford City and County Council, which has engaged with many partners to ensure this unique facility is open to the people of Dungarvan. The facility’s aim is to ensure we have a safe environment for children of all abilities to learn to cycle safely. It allows us to deliver Cycling Ireland courses including balance bike training, disability cycling, sprocket rocket and Cycle Right in a completely accessible and traffic free environment.”
“This is a fantastic initiative to be involved with from Day One. To be recognised nationally for an amenity that ensures children, of all abilities, have a safe and accessible environment to learn to cycle safely, is testament to the vision and dedication of all the stakeholders in bringing the cycle track to Dungarvan.”
The overall cost of the cycle track was €50,000 with Waterford City and County Council receiving funding from 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 contractors Richard Forristal Ltd.