A school where everyone enjoys riding bikes has ramped things up by creating a £45,000 BMX track for the community.
Morpeth Road Primary in Blyth has spent years developing a culture of cycling and building up a collection of 190 finely-tuned bicycles for pupils to use.
Now it has unveiled a purpose-built pump track, a series of dirt mounds and banked turns, which can be ridden without pedaling, allowing younger children to practice basic cycle skills and more experienced riders to perform stunts.
It was developed with the help of Active Northumberland and a contribution from Northumberland County Council, which reinvested £17,000 of section 106 money to help fund the project.
The track was launched with a cycle-themed community celebration featuring dance and music, BMX demonstrations and an inaugural ride by Cramlington’s Jack Watson – the HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) Junior World Champion – who appeared with Barnesbury Cycling Club.
Headteacher Mike Bell came up with the idea after taking a group to the Velodrome, in Manchester, where they tried out an enormous BMX track that featured in the Commonwealth Games.
He said: “Cycling has really developed at the school, to the point that it’s now our major sport and every child in school is now cycling.
“Over the past five years, 100 per cent of the kids who cycle have achieved their academic targets and 75 per cent have exceeded them.
“Our teachers have seen a clear link between cycling and success in the classroom and there is plenty of scientific evidence to back that up.”
He added: “Attendance and behaviour has improved too because nobody wants to miss out on cycling and the long bike rides we take are like history, geography and maths lessons rolled into one.
“And our Bike Week involves studying lots of different subjects through the prism of cycling – things like health and safety, nutrition, and cooking.
“The track will help our younger pupils, many as young as four, to develop basic cycling skills more quickly.
“But the facility is for the whole community to use and getting the grant from the council, with the support of Coun Val Tyler, was key to making it happen.”
The school is supported in all of its cycling activities by Bike for Health, Start Cycles and Steel Cycles, which have helped the school to grow its large stock of well-maintained bicycles.