What Outdoor Track to Build? 21/12/14
On December 11th 2014 it was announced that Edinburgh Council are to build an outdoor Velodrome at Hunter's Hall Park. It would seem we are committed to having an outdoor concrete replacement for Meadowbank. An low budget indoor 200m Velodrome seemed like the logical option. However the Council are now committed to an outdoor Velodrome but all is not said and done. There are a number of factors i believe we need to include to maximise this opportunity.
First of all lets examine the pitfalls made by others when constructing outdoor velodromes. Firstly we have Bellahouston 400m, Tarmac, Velodrome in Glasgow:
The cyclists among you will be looking at this picture and asking why was that ever built? This is a perfect example of what not to do. The main problem above all is the gradient of the banking. A half decent cyclist over the age of 14 would struggle to get round these corers at full speed. This track is inadequate for training and racing, an oppertunity missed.
A further less extreme example can be found at Caird Park 402m, Tarmac, Velodrome, Dundee:
I raced and on occasions trained here as a child and have fond memories of this place. However again the banking is too shallow once you hit a certain speed. This affects racing and training, especially motor paced efforts. The amazing cycling community at Dundee make the best of what they have but there are undeniable weak points in the tracks design.
The track shown above is Dudenhofen 250m, Concrete, Velodrome in Germany. This presents significant advantages over many outdoor tracks that currently exist in the UK.
Firstly the banking is steep enough for any speed achievable on a bike in competition or motorbike training.
Secondly from a rider development point of view its as close to a UCI competition standard 250m velodrome (Glasgow, Manchester, London) you can get with in our constraints.
Thirdly the smaller size of this track could mean that a covering could be added post construction. If the council build anything over 250 meters the cost for an enclosure balloons and becomes more unrealistic. Covered indoor concrete 250m velodromes are more common than you might think. Bellville Velodrome, South Africa is a good example.
Ultimately i hope that when times are less austere at the council a covering could be built and Edinburgh will have the Velodrome it deserves. Even if the Veldrome is never covered i believe a concrete 250m is by far the best option. I hope all the stake holders in the new Velodrome will adopt this as the best option for cyclists of all levels.
Case for an indoor Velodrome, pre public consultation. 01/12/14
I have often been asked for my thoughts on the current proposals for a new Velodrome in Edinburgh to replace what the City of Edinburgh Council sign states as 'Meadowbank Veledrome'. To me, this obvious mis-spelling sums up the councils attitude to a facility they would rather not have, with a cycling community they choose to ignore. This is in stark contrast to other councils in the UK such as Newport City Council and Manchester City Council, both of which strongly support their Velodromes and have a thriving cycling community as a result.
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.
A Velodrome can be such a valuable addition to a city. From my own poor experiences on the road I would find it difficult to suggest to young cyclists to buy a road bike and try cycling on the road. Drivers attitudes are improving but some are still aggressive and dangerous towards cyclists. A velodrome is the perfect answer, children and younger cyclists can experience a similar style of cycling in a safe, traffic free environment. Velodromes also create great social hubs and allow the cycling community to thrive. This makes cycling, which can be quite an expensive sport, much more accessible. When I started at Meadowbank everything from my bike to clothes were loaned off other riders and clubs.
Currently, the City of Edinburgh Council is going through a consultation process with two of the possible five options including an outdoor velodrome. An outdoor velodrome in many countries makes perfect sense. In Scotland however, it definitely does not. Edinburgh has 124 days of rain a year! When a velodrome, even tarmac, is wet, play stops. 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. The council and all those who back it urgently need to alter their position and option appraisal.
I must say an outdoor velodrome would be better than nothing and i understand that cost is a limiting factor. Dundee have made the best of their outdoor track therefore it would be a massive shame if we were to end up with no facility at all. However i feel there is a distinct lack of ambition from the council to try and make an indoor facility possible. The surface, track length and spectator seating is irrelevant being sheltered from the elements to create a year round facility is the priority. Until then Meadowbank is as much use as an outdoor tarmac replacement as long as it is still safe to use.
On a lighter note bellow you can see a picture from 2008, the campaign has been running far longer. Also an interesting video filmed at Meadowbank showing the need for a replacement but also how much the facility means to the local cycling community.