“Barry Sidings Pumptrack has reduced antisocial behaviour in the community by 70%” – PC Nigel Bird, South Wales Police.
Pumptracks are often overlooked when brainstorming ideas for a project that really benefits the local community. We wanted to put this post together to highlight some of the key social benefits that installing a pumptrack can have within a community.
Central Park Pump Track, Wallasey
1 – Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
It’s no secret that it can be a real challenge these days to peel children and teenagers away from their screens to actively engage in some kind of sport or exercise. It is therefore really important to have facilities in local communities that are actually fun for youngsters to use.
The idea of a pumptrack is for the rider to generate all of their speed and momentum by moving their arms and legs to “pump” the rollers and corners – think of it in the same way as you can generate momentum on a swing. This pumping motion really is a great all body workout, and once you master it the speed you can generate is surprising.
Pumptracks are a gateway to developing an ingrained lifelong interest in a sport – not only cycling but also other wheeled sports like skateboarding, scooters and roller skates.
2 – Social Inclusion
The whole ethos behind a pumptrack is that it should be a resource that is fun and beneficial for all to use – all ages, all genders, all abilities, all wheeled sports.
A good pumptrack is designed as such that anyone is able to use it – all they need is the basic ability to ride their bike, scooter, skateboard, roller skates or any other wheeled equipment. The process of generating speed and momentum through “pumping” means that the risk involved with a pumptrack is self-regulating – you need a high level of skill to get up to a high speed.
Pumptracks have a similar appeal to skate parks in that they allow users to interact with each other and be creative in their use of the facility, without the intimidating nature of skate parks. Pumptracks are a place where it’s not unusual to find professional riders riding alongside a four year old on their balance bike. Everyone is having fun on the same track, and importantly the facility is safe for everyone to use.
Shannon Town Pump Track, Shannon IRE
3 – Help Develop Skills
It’s true that anyone and everyone can use a pumptrack, however the real benefit of a good pumptrack design is that it continues to engage people as their skills develop. A pumptrack is the place where people can turn a spark of enthusiasm into a lifelong passion for cycling.
Just take a look at how popular BMX racing was in the 2012 London Olympics. Pumptracks originated as small-scale BMX racetracks and although they have evolved over the years to be suitable for all sorts of wheeled sports, they are exceptionally good training grounds for BMX riders.
Pumptracks help to focus teenagers. Let me explain – pumptracks are easy to ride, but hard to ride fast. Once the pumping action has clicked, riding a pumptrack becomes addictive and it’s hard to stop going until you reach the limits of your physical ability. On each lap your speed and flow increases but eventually you’ll reach a limit, and to progress further you might need to learn to manual a feature – that is to “wheelie” on your rear wheel, or maybe you need to jump from one roller to another. It’s this continuous challenge and development that really engages and focuses people, and encourages them to think creatively.
4 – Reduce antisocial behaviour
This is a big claim. But a study in Trehafod in the Rhondda Valley shows that a pumptrack we installed in 2009 reduced antisocial behaviour in the local community by 70%. Take a look at the ITV News article reporting the great news. Further still, in 2014 the project was included in a European Commission list of the best and most promising practises in EU community policing.
How is this possible? It gave local youths the golden combination of good exercise, a community to be a part of, and a place to focus and develop their skills. A real success story.
We’re proud of our pumptracks and their achievements. They’re a great resource to enrich a community space in any part of the country – in fact they can benefit communities all over the world. What’s more, we love riding them ourselves.
We can help! If you’d like further information on how a pumptrack could benefit your community – we can provide assistance from feasibility through planning, design and construction. Get in touch with us or subscribe to our news blog for regular project updates.