British Cycling have published a “Cycling Facility Assessment”, which deemed that construction of a velodrome in the city would not be a “high priority” and did not have a “sufficiently strong strategic or business case to justify such an investment”.
The assessment, commissioned by British Cycling ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, was carried out by independent sport advisory company 4global.
British Cycling said the assessment had been delivered and managed in partnership with a project steering group comprising representatives from British Cycling, Birmingham City Council, Sport England and The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS).
The assessment examines Birmingham’s future facility needs for cycling, with a velodrome among those considered.
In April campaigners calling for a velodrome to be built handed over a petition containing more than 7,000 signatures to Ian Ward, the Birmingham City Council leader and chairman of Birmingham 2022.
The campaign began after Commonwealth Games organisers announced Lee Valley VeloPark in London would host track cycling events, despite being 130 miles away from Birmingham.
The petition organisers acknowledged that the Commonwealth Games cycling would not take place in Birmingham, rejecting the offer of Sport England and British Cycling support in building another competition-standard venue.
But they called for a “more modest training and development velodrome”, which it was claimed would leave a strong legacy from the Games and make the sport more accessible to local cyclists.
The report said analysis was conducted in relation to indoor velodromes and access, which would be in line with British Cycling’s facility ambition to ensure no-one has to travel more than 90 minutes to access an indoor velodrome.
It added the majority of residents who live within a 20-minute drive time catchment of the Birmingham city boundary can generally access an either Derby or Newport velodrome within a 90 minute drive time.
Derby Velodrome could be accessed in between 60 to 90 minutes, it is claimed.
The report acknowledged there was a view amongst stakeholders that Birmingham requires an indoor velodrome, with the opinion “particularly prevalent from cycle track clubs who argued that they have to travel to Derby, Manchester or South Wales in order to access such a facility.”
Other clubs, which were not specifically track cycling clubs, “did not have as strong a view and believed that the investment that would be required for a Birmingham indoor velodrome would be better spent on developing existing cycling facilities and enhancing the cycling infrastructure.”
The analysis acknowledged a common theme had emerged regarding availability of indoor velodromes, with track clubs saying there was a “limited availability of alternative facilities and the number of track meets that are cancelled due to bad weather.”
Track slots in evening and weekend periods were very limited, it was agreed, particularly at Derby Velodrome.
The report recommended options be considered to improve access to the Derby Velodrome, such as the booking system.
Options for covering existing outdoor velodromes in Halesowen and Aldersley with a canopy structure were also suggested, along with supporting the clubs to repair track surfaces to extend club usage time and reduce the impact of bad weather cancelling races and training.
British Cycling said the report outlined multi-discipline facilities, entry-level recreational cycling hubs and traffic-free cycling venues as areas for development in Birmingham’s overall plan.
“British Cycling plays a key role in encouraging millions of people to ride their bikes recreationally, and an important part of that work is done by looking into ways of supporting existing facilities and providing investment into new ones,” said Andy Farr, British Cycling’s head of business planning and transformation.
“The report provides a sound basis to create a lasting legacy in Birmingham and the surrounding areas from the Commonwealth Games and beyond, with the development of a long-term infrastructure.
“What is most important, is that it contributes directly to local and national priorities and will reach a more diverse cycling audience because it is people-focused and adopts a needs-led approach.
“I have great confidence in the planning and prioritising investment recommendations outlined for the next decade.”
“All discipline-specific facilities – speedway tracks, velodromes, closed road cycle circuits, BMX tracks and mountain bike venues – that are in a 20-minute drive time catchment of the Birmingham local authority boundary have been considered as part of the Birmingham Cycling Needs Assessment, along with recreational cycling hubs that provide local opportunities for people to ride.”
The report concludes with an action plan which summarises the key recommendations of the report, along with the scale of investment required, timescales for deliveryand key partners.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said the report outlined the key cycling needs of the city.
“We’ve always been clear the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are more than just 11 days of sport for elite athletes,” Ward said.
“Everyone involved in this study is keen for the inspirational performances during the summer of 2022 to translate into increased participation across all forms of cycling. Ultimately, everything we do to support cycling will be judged on participation rates and how many people are using a bike as part of their everyday travel.
“Aligned to our emerging Birmingham Transport Plan, the work of the city’s Climate Change Taskforce and efforts to improve air quality, this report objectively lays out the cycling facilities we have a clear need for and it creates a basis for developing plans and securing the resources required to do this.”
Mountain bike and road cycling events will take place in Birmingham during the Commonwealth Games, while track cycling will be based in London.
The full report can be accessed here Birmingham_Cycling_Facility_Assessment-compressed.pdf