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Three children wearing BMX helmets on BMX track

British Cycling City Academies Programme

Lee Valley VeloPark

Tackling inequality in cycling

In 2021 Lee Valley Regional Park Authority began supporting the British Cycling City Academies Programme (supported by the Rapha Foundation) via an Active Communities Grant. The Programme is designed to make cycling more accessible and affordable for local communities, giving young people the opportunity to attend free hyper-local community based cycling sessions.

The project also seeks to create a diverse and accessible pathway into the British Cycling talent team and with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s funding and support, offers promising cyclists free training sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark.

To ensure the sustainability of the programme British Cycling trains local volunteers, coaches and cycling instructors (who represent the diversity of the local community) to lead and develop community based cycling hubs.

During the past two years British Cycling has delivered four City HUBs in Hackney, Newham and Haringey, which provide weekly, free cycling skill sessions for children in local spaces, from parklands to playgrounds, focusing on communities where there is no traditional association with cycling. Riders who attend the City HUB sessions and have shown cycling talent and commitment have been invited to the City Academy at Lee Valley VeloPark, with free training sessions on the velodrome and BMX track.

There are currently 20 riders attending weekly City Academy talent sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark, some of whom have gone on to join their local cycling club. Thanks to Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s funding British Cycling now has ten riders regularly competing in local competitions and accessing the British Cycling talent pathway, who 12 months ago had never been to Lee Valley VeloPark.

What’s next?

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority will continue to support this initiative throughout 2023, hosting City Academy sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark and providing further financial support.

More broadly British Cycling plan to develop the network of City HUBs to increase the number of young people actively engaging in cycling. Alongside this, the project will enable British Cycling to continue to upskill and provide support to local volunteers.

For existing City Academy riders British Cycling plan to expand the racing calendar and support their journey competing at local track and BMX events. Riders who are already accessing the British Cycling talent pathway will be supported through their journey up the pathway.

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