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Gloucestershire Business News

Bike club’s last ditch plea for land

An educational off-road bike project funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner is appealing for land to host its sessions.

Volunteers are looking to establish a permanent site for their club meetings, but so far they have failed to find somewhere suitable.

The Forest Youth Off Road Bike Project is open to young people aged from 6 to 16 years and aims to encourage the responsible use of motorbikes, through structured learning with experienced riders.

The club has attracted a huge amount of support from local volunteers, including qualified motorcycle instructors, parents and guardians and experienced off-road riders, all keen to see younger members of the local community learn to ride a motorbike in a safe environment.

The illegal use of motorbikes, quad bikes and mini-motors by young people is a growing problem in the Forest of Dean. Riding in the forest damages trails, disturbs wildlife habitats and poses a safety risk to woodland users, including the motorbike riders themselves.

As well as improving motorbike riding skills, the project also includes bike maintenance tips and safety checks, all aimed at reducing the number of injuries and deaths involving young riders.

Similar police-run off-road bike projects have already proven successful in both Cheltenham and Gloucester and have shown a significant reduction in the anti-social behaviour of the young people who attend the sessions.

Councillor Paul Hiett, cabinet member for communities and community safety, said: "We're all keen to get the Forest Youth Off Road Bike Project up and running, but finding a suitable venue is proving to be more difficult than we first thought.

"We're looking for an existing outdoor track or a field somewhere, which complies with planning legislation, is easily accessible, away from properties and won't cause a disturbance to the neighbouring community, where we can run a monthly training course. It needs to be somewhere where young people can learn to ride motorbikes safely and can experience riding on different terrains and in various weather conditions.

"Our hope is that we can secure some land to make this project a success, so by the time participants are old enough ride a motorbike on a road they will have a good understanding of the risks involved. Ultimately this knowledge should help to reduce the number of road traffic accidents involving young bike riders.

If anyone owns some land or knows of a landowner who may be interested in hosting the project, please get in touch with Nikki Mclean, community engagement officer at Forest of Dean District Council on 01594 812372 or by emailing nicola.mclean@fdean.gov.uk .

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