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GB track cyclist calls for indoor velodrome in Edinburgh

Callum Skinner feels current plans for an outdoor velodrome show a lack of ambition

European kilo champion and recent Track Cycling World Cup gold medal winner, Callum Skinner, has said that the City of Edinburgh Council are making the same mistake twice in failing to consider an indoor cycle track in Edinburgh. The various options for a planned cycling hub at Hunters Hall Park only include an outdoor facility.

The city’s existing Meadowbank velodrome – the place where both Skinner and Sir Chris Hoy began their careers – is due to be demolished and Skinner says that an indoor velodrome wouldn’t suffer the same problems that have been seen there in recent times.

On his website, Skinner wrote:

“The current situation with Meadowbank is a Velodrome that is crumbling and a track cycling community that is in decline. Meadowbanks main problem since construction is that it is not protected from the elements. Meadowbank is closed over the winter due to poor weather. The weather, even in summer, often results in very irregular training and events being disrupted. Many of Edinburgh's track cycling community now seek cover 50 miles away at the indoor Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.”

Acknowledging that the city lacks dedicated cycle facilities, the council is planning a cycling hub at Hunters Hall Park in Niddrie, the exact nature of which is yet to be confirmed. Four different options have been listed. Two include an outdoor velodrome, but none includes an indoor version.

Skinner says that the Scottish weather means an outdoor velodrome simply doesn't make sense.

"So this is how I see it, you build half a facility by building a velodrome without a roof, you get a facility that is unusable for at least a third of the year. This unpredictability has a knock on effect for events, training and participants. Will competitors travel across the country to an event that may be rained off? Will parents take their children to a training session that may be cut short or cancelled? The City of Edinburgh Council seem determined to make the same mistake twice."

However, Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport chief, says that there simply isn’t money available for such a project. He also argues that the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow is accessible enough for elite athletes.

“We have £1.215m of funding set aside for this project so we must be realistic in our vision. We need to find an affordable solution that supports the majority of cyclists and learners. An indoor velodrome may be on the wish lists of some of the city’s professional cyclists, but the capital and revenue costs of an indoor velodrome would simply be unaffordable to the council at this time, especially when the indoor Chris Hoy Velodrome – which cost £100m to construct – sits just 40 miles to the west of the city.”

As well as an outdoor velodrome, other facilities listed in the options for Hunters Hall Park include a closed road cycle circuit, BMX and cycle speedway tracks and also synthetic turf 3G football/rugby pitches to compensate for the loss of grass pitches on the site. Plans will be put forward to the Culture and Sport Committee for approval later this month.

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kcr | 9 years ago

It would be great to have a covered velodrome in Edinburgh, but I think it's very unlikely that will happen, when there is a state-of-the-art facility already available in Glasgow. With limited funding available for sporting facilities, it would be difficult to justify building and maintaining two covered facilities 45 miles apart in Scotland.

I would be very keen to see a dedicated criterium road circuit at Hunters Hall. Edinburgh lacks such a facility at the moment. The privately owned circuit that is currently used for competition is unavailable for much of the year and is prohibitively expensive to hire. Despite this, the limited events that are held there are still very popular, so I think a new Council owned road circuit would be heavily used throughout the year for coaching, training and competition, and would complement Glasgow's track facility.
Unfortunately, I think the design illustrated above is compromised by trying to incorporate too many different activities, and the suggested road circuit would not be very effective.

electricmud | 9 years ago

Building an outdoor velodrome will just repeat the same issues the Meadowbank velodrome had. Which was inaccessibility when it's wet. Which is pretty much nearly all year in Scotland.

And for the council to say we don't need an indoor track, because all elite cyclist can just travel to Glasgow's, is a ludicrous notion! One way of encouraging more cyclists, is to build more facilities near where they live.

You know it's funny, one of GB most successful Olympians and track cyclists, Sir Chris Hoy, was born and bred in Edinburgh, yet the council would happily see another city, nurture possible future champions.

And I agree about Hunters Hall. It's a very poor location for the cycling facilities. It's not exactly centralised, or what you could call a "safe" area.

earth | 9 years ago

I ask for one in Bristol

OldRidgeback | 9 years ago

My own feeling is that Hunters Hall is a poor choice of location for a cycling venue. The mugging rate and high ned count round there would mean anyone heading to such a facility on a quality bike would be targeted. My family lost a series of decent MTBs to local neds.

I still think Inverleith Park would've been a much better and more central location, not to mention a safer one as well.

I hope the nimby fraternity who whinged about a skatepark at Inverleith to the extent that it was blocked are happy with the influx of rats they got instead when the old boating pond was turned into a nature/wetlands reserve.

ct | 9 years ago

I use an outdoor velodrome all year does a very successful junior club. Every day it is in use by some group or other and it is raced on in the summer and used for crits.

During the winter months road clubs use it for midweek training. Schools use it for cycling proficiency. Kids are taught to ride there, little kids. Others play soccer on the infield.

I would bite our council's arm off if they offered to extend the facility to include a crit track and grass racing bearing in mind the Newport has an indoor track not 10 miles away - that strangely I have no interest in using.

KnightBiker | 9 years ago

An indoor track is the only meaningful solution: all outdoor tracks can just as well be any closed road criterium parcours.

To keep costs down:
the venue has to be multifunctional - velodrome Alkmaar has the middle area for hockey/soccer etc.
entry fee's need to be asked (amsterdam velodrome has shared free training slots at 10Euro per person for 3 to four hours at a time - organised training @ 12 euro's)

Keep the velodrome small 200 meters or even a little less keeps it small and feeling fast

Beefy | 9 years ago

Why don't these people get it? We are not a hot country! There is a fab outdoor velodrome at Knowsley with is very popular but only usable in good weather. I think it is even colder and wetter in Scotland. Come on planners this is the UK, indoor velodromes make much more sence. Yes much more expensive but I would guess you would treble it's availability for use

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