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Cycling’s coming home to Leicester

Leicester is undergoing an extraordinary resurgence, says Andy Salkeld. Not only is the football club on the verge of a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ triumph, but regeneration is improving the public realm and attracting new investment

15 April 2016
Cycle hubs have been installed at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium to encourage supporters to arrive by bike
Cycle hubs have been installed at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium to encourage supporters to arrive by bike

 

Leicester is celebrating a hat-trick of success that mirrors that of its football club, as regeneration, self-confidence and pride in the city grow.

Elected City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has set out a clear vision to deliver a people-friendly and cycling-friendly city fit for the 21st century.

Connecting Leicester is an extensive programme of public realm improvements initiated by the mayor after he was elected for his first term of office in 2011. It includes streets being redesigned as shared spaces, public parks and traffic-free squares for seating, retail, walking and cycling. ‘Stepping stone’ regeneration projects are attracting investment and re-connecting the city centre with surrounding suburbs.

The City Mayor is clear that he aims to combat “1960s council vandalism” and a legacy of road planning that blighted the city for 50 years. He was re-elected in 2015 with an increased majority and has expanded the Connecting Leicester programme with an extended Pedestrian Priority Zone and cycle tracks around the city.

The discovery of King Richard III and his reinterment at Leicester Cathedral put Leicester on the map and brought significant numbers of new visitors to the city.

This gave added impetus to the vision for people-friendly street changes.

Inward investment has followed. IBM recently announced it is locating its only UK Client Innovation Centre in Leicester. The city had the fastest business growth outside London in 2015 and is considered one of the UK’s ‘hottest’ property markets.

Leicester City Football Club’s Roy of the Rovers success story has once again thrust the city into the international spotlight. It’s an underdog story that is providing hope and inspiration across the city and well beyond.

Leicester City players recently took to bikes themselves, as they joined in ‘Bike for Dad’ celebrations for the King of Thailand’s birthday. Across Leicester, more and more people are following their lead.  

Andy Salkeld, cycling co-ordinator at Leicester City Council, will be speaking at Cycle City Active City

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