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“It will be like living next to a motorway!”: Residents oppose school’s BMX cycle track project out of fears that they’d lose their “peace” and “privacy”

The school insisted that it wants to encourage healthy lifestyles and active travel for its pupils, but the £150,000 project hasn’t gone down well with the nearby residents

A school’s bid for setting up a BMX track for its primary and secondary students has been met with opposition from the nearby residents who have claimed that the “noisy bikers” will disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the neighbourhood and it will be like “living next to a motorway”.

Folksetone Academy, a mixed secondary school and sixth form academy in Folkestone, Kent, had submitted plans to build the facility, consisting of a 480-metre trail split into two loops and a free-flowing area with jumps and obstacles and costing £150,000, on a section of its campus close to the back gardens of the houses in Grasmere Gardens.

However, Kent Online reports that residents have not been too keen on the project, which the school has confirmed will be used by its primary and secondary pupils under the supervision of a teacher, as it wants to encourage healthy lifestyles and active travel amongst the students.

Kevin Black, who has lived in Grasmere Gardens for 20 years, said: “I don’t think the impact on the community has been considered — it really is the wrong area for it.

“You might as well build a motorway back there with all the noise it’ll create. This is a very quiet area, but now we’ll have a BMX track 20 metres from our house. Not enough thought has gone into this.”

> Britain’s “most expensive street” bans cyclists and pedestrians – after complaints about “dangerous” cyclists causing “near misses” and putting residents and diplomats “at risk”

Other neighbours also expressed their concerns that their privacy would be invaded by cyclists performing jumps and peering over their fences.

Emma Black said: “Who are these people who are looking straight into our houses and seeing what we’ve got? When you’ve got a great big bike track on your back fence panel, you aren’t going to be able to sell this place.

“I’m not against it. Kids need something, but it’s too close to our houses.”

Folksetone Academy (Google Maps)

Folksetone Academy (Google Maps)

Patrica Hart, who has lived in Grasmere Gardens for more than 40 years, remembers when concerns were raised about the construction of the school itself. But the 66-year-old said residents were at the time consulted more and had their views listened to before the Academy opened in 2007.

“Last time, we felt like we had a voice and could pull them up on a few things,” she said. “We had lots of consultations about the school, where everybody could ask questions, and we could work out compromises between us all.

“Originally, they wanted a path coming right against our fence, but we argued over why it needed to be so close. We came to an agreement, and they moved it back.

“But this time, we just had a letter with a QR code, and we had less than two weeks to submit our views. Some neighbours were away. They could’ve come and spoken to all of us.”

> Parents angry that children are being taught to cycle in middle of lane and other “risky behaviour” by cycling instructors, says Bikeability

According to the application submitted by Folksetone Academy, which has also submitted plans for the UK’s first school skate park on its campus, the track be available to supervised groups or clubs from Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm, and at weekends from 10am to 4pm.

The school already teaches skateboarding, and the principal hopes that with the sport’s growing popularity a future world champion could come from the town. However, residents have fewer concerns about the skate park as it has been positioned further away from their homes.

Turner School Trust, which overlooks Folksetone Academy, said in a statement that it hopes to address neighbours’ fears about the proposed scheme. A spokeswoman said: “We are very excited at the prospect of bringing the sport and exercise opportunity this development would provide to our students and the community, encouraging healthy lifestyles and active travel.

“The mountain bike track would be used by both primary and secondary pupils in supervised sessions covering PE lessons and lunchtime, after school and Saturday morning clubs. We also propose that it be made available for managed, wider community use, much like our other sporting facilities.

“The use will also be limited by natural light with no proposed extra lighting; the surface will be constructed from sustainable compacted type 1 stone with additional trees/foliage to be planted around the area.

“Track users will be able to access the same toilet facilities with external access that are currently used by other users, and the Trust is proud of the cleanliness of its current facilities.”

> School bike racks destroyed by speeding, out-of-control motorist, as pupils and teachers stage protest demanding introduction of 20mph limit

In February this year, Bikeability warned that despite record numbers of schoolchildren being taught to cycle in the UK, fewer young people are riding their bikes regularly due to concerns from parents about the behaviour of motorists on the road and the lack of safe, protected infrastructure.

The national cycle training scheme’s chief executive also said that she had received complaints from parents that children were now being taught “risky behaviour” by cycle instructors based on the revised Highway Code, and were teaching them to cycle in the middle of the lane to make themselves more visible to motorists when approaching junctions, traffic islands, or while riding on narrow roads.

And just yesterday, Kensington Palace Gardens, a half-mile-long tree-lined avenue in London, dubbed Britian’s most expensive street and ‘Billionaires Row’ thanks to its £35 million average house price, banned cyclists and pedestrians after complaints about “dangerous” cyclists using the street as a cut-through and putting residents and diplomats “at risk”.

The street had long been closed to motorists, with pedestrians and cyclists until this week able to enter at any time through gates guarded by sentry boxes at either end of the avenue.

However, on Wednesday the Crown Estate, which owns and manages the avenue, closed the road to pedestrians and cyclists “due to safety concerns”, with members of the public now unable to use it until a review is completed.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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36 comments

Avatar
jaymack | 1 month ago
5 likes

Motorway traffic? Really? That's an impressive leap of the imagination. Some years ago there was some expansion of the airfield at Lydd. The locals were of course furious, the noise! Then some clever soul compaired the proposed increase in light aircraft versus the noise produced by summer lawn mowing and hedge trimming; the aircraft were less noisy.

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john_smith replied to jaymack | 1 month ago
6 likes

But what about all the passengers looking straight into their houses and seeing what they've got? 

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eburtthebike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

john_smith wrote:

But what about all the passengers looking straight into their houses and seeing what they've got? 

And stealing it.

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jaymack replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

...of course, silly me

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wycombewheeler replied to jaymack | 1 month ago
5 likes

jaymack wrote:

Motorway traffic? Really? That's an impressive leap of the imagination. Some years ago there was some expansion of the airfield at Lydd. The locals were of course furious, the noise! Then some clever soul compaired the proposed increase in light aircraft versus the noise produced by summer lawn mowing and hedge trimming; the aircraft were less noisy.

down with any sort of change or development, unless it's more roads.

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henryb | 1 month ago
5 likes

Curiously, when a new motorway is proposed, affected nearby residents never complain "It's going to be like living next to a load of kids riding bicycles!"

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wtjs | 1 month ago
4 likes

Bikeability warned that despite record numbers of schoolchildren being taught to cycle in the UK, fewer young people are riding their bikes regularly due to concerns from parents about the behaviour of motorists like themselves on the road

Not enough thought has gone into this...

Well, enough thought has gone into this, although it didn't take very long: the Blacks, the Harts and their fellow complainers are selfish, dimwit, archetypal NIMBYs

 

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HLaB replied to wtjs | 1 month ago
2 likes

The Woman Who Stopped Traffic was a good programme https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1329985/

She managed to convince parents they were part of the problem they were citing as an excuse for not lettin Jonny/Jenny cycle.

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Car Delenda Est | 1 month ago
6 likes

"Who are these people who are looking straight into our houses and seeing what we’ve got?"

That would be the children at your local school, not criminals in waiting, you utter creep

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zweiblumen replied to Car Delenda Est | 1 month ago
4 likes

And it's just possible that, as they reach the apex of their jump, these children will have more pressing things to think about than whether the cutlery at no 32 is silver or stainless steel.

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john_smith | 1 month ago
5 likes

Bah. Children.

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Barraob1 | 1 month ago
5 likes

A motorway? I honestly thought this was April fools when I read that. Maybe it's time to put an age limit on 66 year old nimbys

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
2 likes

Folkestone: NIMBY capital of the UK, possibly the world and even the universe.

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riggbeck | 1 month ago
12 likes

I wish the schools I went to had had a bike park. I might have been more interested in going every day. Folkestone Academy sounds awesome.

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Rendel Harris replied to riggbeck | 1 month ago
9 likes

riggbeck wrote:

I wish the schools I went to had had a bike park. I might have been more interested in going every day. Folkestone Academy sounds awesome.

Agreed, excellent initiative – what do you bet that the people objecting to it are also the ones who complain that the local youths are just hanging around on street corners making trouble because they've got nowhere to go?

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Cyclo1964 replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
1 like

Nail on the head they would probably want them to do national service? 

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ooblyboo | 1 month ago
15 likes

As a local, I found this objection firstly pretty depressing and secondly rather odd. Odd because, if you look at a map, you will see that they do live next to a motorway - it's called the M20! 

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Andrewbanshee replied to ooblyboo | 1 month ago
6 likes

It is odd isn't it when you see so many new builds right next to a major road/ motorway. I mention this next bit quite a lot, when I lived in Switzerland it was amazing. The rush hour was quieter than Sunday in the UK. Wherever I am in the UK I can hear traffic. I live in a village outside of Loughborough which is in amazing countryside but has a busy road cutting through it. Most drivists speed. I pretty much smell exhaust fumes wherever I go. These idiots are complaining about kids having something to keep them occupied, entertained and motivated. D1ckheads

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Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
8 likes

Looking at the satellite view (below), the school already has a running track, tennis courts and a substantial playground very adjacent to the back fences of Grasmere Gardens, why do the residents believe that a BMX track will create more noise than those facilities? It does make one think there might be something in mdavidford's suggestion below that certain residents have got BMX bikes and petrol-engined dirt bikes confused…

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NotNigel replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
5 likes

From the one we used to have near me, it certainly attracted kids on motocross bikes but that was on public/council land not in school grounds.  I wonder how the residents would feel if the plan was a bit more of a high brow activity such as equestrian or something.? 

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Velophaart_95 | 1 month ago
16 likes

We really are a quite miserable country, aren't we? If it's not moaning about a proposed BMX track for children, it's rich residents not wanting cyclists/ pedestrians using their road.......

 

 

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OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
15 likes

The attitude of the locals is appalling. Do they prefer the kids to be unfit and unhealthy? Maybe they should go to a BMX track some time and realise it's not at all like a motorway. there is no loud engine noise from motor vehicles cruising at 70mph and nor is there any public health issue from large and heavy motor vehicles losing control or simply putting out exhaust emissions. The complainers should be ashamed of themselves. 

As a BMX coach, another BMX regional standard track in Kent would only be a good thing. One of the kids I coached recently relocated to Folkestone with his family and now has to go a distance to the East Kent track at Broomfield to train. I'm sure he'd be delighted if there was  a track in Folkestone.

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mdavidford replied to OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
9 likes

OldRidgeback wrote:

 Maybe they should go to a BMX track some time and realise it's not at all like a motorway. there is no loud engine noise

I did wonder if perhaps that particular comment had come from someone who was just confused about the difference between BMX and dirt bikes.

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NotNigel replied to mdavidford | 1 month ago
6 likes

Or they're worried that all the kids are going to jam plastic drink cartons in between their rear wheel on seatstay bridge to make them sound like a motorbike.

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marmotte27 | 1 month ago
1 like

I don't see how a BMX- track promotes active travel. If anything it reinforces the idea that bikes are toys.

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NotNigel replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
11 likes

Maybe you shouldn't have such a narrow minded view on bmx bikes. That's a very similar view to how a lot of us perceive the motoring community to view cyclists as a whole.  Promoting any sort of cycling wether for commuting or leisure or sport must be a good thing eh? 

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chrisonabike replied to NotNigel | 1 month ago
1 like

I think they were objecting to the overoptimistic - well, advertising - of Turner School Trust.

I'd agree with both - cycling is great exercise and fun. But then - so is rollerskating, or trampolining. In the UK the link between what kids are taught and active travel is - if not quite non-existent - very questionable *. It's harder to get adults to cycle if they never did. But a) parents are normally reluctant for their kids to cycle places** and b) kids grow into adults - and most adults don't cycle in the UK. And that's not because they don't know how...

* Same goes for "recreation" (cycling as sport) and active travel in general.

**We've actually got all kinds of issues around independent mobility for kids...

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OldRidgeback replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
12 likes

BMX riding teaches useful cycling skills and riders typically have very high ability levels on two wheels. Many of the kids I coach ride to and from school regularly and also ride to the BMX track with their parents. They see bikes as things for fun that'll also get you from A to B.

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Rendel Harris replied to OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
9 likes

OldRidgeback wrote:

BMX riding teaches useful cycling skills and riders typically have very high ability levels on two wheels. Many of the kids I coach ride to and from school regularly and also ride to the BMX track with their parents. They see bikes as things for fun that'll also get you from A to B.

See plenty of them round Peckham riding their bikes down to the track in Burgess Park - occasionally one on a full-sized bike carrying their BMX over their shoulder!

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OldRidgeback replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
1 like

Rendel Harris wrote:

OldRidgeback wrote:

BMX riding teaches useful cycling skills and riders typically have very high ability levels on two wheels. Many of the kids I coach ride to and from school regularly and also ride to the BMX track with their parents. They see bikes as things for fun that'll also get you from A to B.

See plenty of them round Peckham riding their bikes down to the track in Burgess Park - occasionally one on a full-sized bike carrying their BMX over their shoulder!

It's quite likely you've seen me or some of the riders I coach heading down to Peckham then. I ride there on my BMX to take sessions (and coach sometimes) as it's not far from where I live.

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