Biking Riverside cycle hub launches with family fun day

The launch of the Biking Riverside project at the Rivergate Centre.

The launch of the Biking Riverside project at the Rivergate Centre. - Credit: Archant

The Biking Riverside cycle hub was launched yesterday with a day of speed, spokes and smoothies.

Around 200 people attended the event, held at the Rivergate Centre on Minter Road, Barking Riverside.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell opened the hub with a speech recalling his many childhood bike rides around Heybridge.

“Working with Barking Riverside, working with you as residents, we want to see you have healthy aspirations,” Rodwell said, “and make sure that the car isn’t the only mode of transport here in Barking Riverside.”

He added: “If you can have Formula 1 in Newham, we can have the Tour de France here in Barking and Dagenham.”

While show riders Team Extreme wowed the crowd with a BMX display, local charities and businesses provided family-fun activities including face painting and a pedal-powered smoothie maker.

Dressed in jeans and a purple knitted sweater, Cllr Rodwell took on the ‘Turbo Challenge’ – a one-minute distance sprint on a prepared racing bike. He achieved 0.358miles.

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“He’s out of the medals table,” said Phil Mylrea, cycling instructor at Dagenham-based Vandome Cycles, which will run most of the services at the hub. “He would have done better if he had worn lycra, not a woolly jumper.”

The hub will be operational from mid-August. A joint project between the council, Barking Riverside and the L&Q Foundation, it will feature instructor courses, workshops, bike maintenance and social rides.

Most activities will be free of charge to borough residents.

Vandome Cycles director Russell Coe said: “Our aim is to provide range of integrated cycling activities including cyclesport to Barking Riverside residents, to help ensure there is no impediment to them taking part in any or multiple activities they may be interested in.”

The borough already hosts free cycle training and skills sessions for all residents, workers and school pupils in the borough.

Over 550 residents learnt to ride a bike for the first time in the last year, with cycle clubs now in 23 local junior and primary schools.