Rgu event crowd image

Student exhibition sets wheels in motion for new trail centre in North East Scotland

An exhibition by architecture students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) has set wheels in motion towards the aim of creating a regional mountain bike centre in the North East of Scotland.

The Stage 2 students unveiled their designs at an event on Tuesday, February 10, held in partnership with Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland (DMBinS) and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

The event, which saw more than 50 people attend, showcased 29 projects featuring new and original ideas for trail head facilities at an example site of Kirkhill Forest on the outskirts of Aberdeen city.

Rgu Exhibition Design ImageFollowing the exhibition, project manager of DMBinS, Graeme McLean, outlined the development of mountain biking across Scotland and the role of the organisation, while Calum Murray, regional manager for Tourism & Recreation of Forestry Commission Scotland in the North East, provided an insight into mountain biking in the National Forest Estate in the area.

Feedback was gathered from those who attended on what a regional centre in the North East might look like, who should be involved and potential issues which would need to be addressed for the idea to progress further. A report of the key issues covered during the meeting can be viewed here .

Martin Byers, who runs a local ABZ MTB Race Team, said:

“I came along to the meeting with fairly low expectations as we have seen these type of discussions happen before in the North East and we haven’t seen any progress on the ground.

“However, it was really encouraging to hear that the area has been identified as a gap within purpose built mountain bike facility provision in Scotland and it was clear that if any future progress is to happen we need to bring mountain bikers together, get organised and have a collective voice to ensure we get the facility we need in the area.”

Colin Allanach, chair of the Scottish Cycling Grampian development group, explained his desire for mountain biking to be a key part of development plans for the area.

He said: “We have ambitious plans for cycling across the area and there is no doubt that mountain biking has massive potential to grow the sport in the area.”

Another keen local rider, Ann Marie Markle, explained that it was important to develop momentum from the meeting.

She said: “The student exhibition was very inspiring and it was pretty obvious that there was enthusiasm for a centre in the area. We felt that while it was a positive start, we need to maintain momentum and canvas the views of many more riders on where and what the centre should be.”

Architecture lecturer at RGU, Gillian Wishart, added: “It is great to hear that the students’ designs helped to inspire discussion about the kind of facilities that mountain bikers are looking for in the area.”

The next step of the project will be to gather more information from the wider mountain biking community on what is needed in the area via a survey.  The quick survey (6 questions) can be accessed here and will be running until midnight on Wednesday 4th March 2015.