Over 100 pupils in Calderdale got on their bikes and took part in the Schools Yorkshire Tour, an initiative encouraging young people to cycle more.
As part of the cycling challenge, a baton is travelling 400 miles across Yorkshire, passed on by children on bikes from 160 schools. It started in York on Monday 10 June to celebrate national Bike Week (8 – 16 June) and will finish in Doncaster on Tuesday 2 July.
The relay came to Calderdale on Tuesday 18 June, passing through 12 schools before moving on to Kirklees.
The event aims to increase the number of young people involved in cycling across the region, with the ambition of more children using bikes when travelling to and from school.
This supports the key Calderdale Council priorities of promoting an active lifestyle through its Active Calderdale movement, whilst improving air quality outside schools as part of Clean Air Day and the Council’s wider air quality campaign, Let’s Clear the Air, to tackle air pollution and encourage people to help by taking action of their own.
Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:
“We want more people in Calderdale to leave their cars behind and travel in active ways. Our distinctive borough is a great place for walking and cycling, and the more we do it, the better it is for our health, wellbeing and the environment.
“The Schools Yorkshire Tour was the perfect opportunity to get young people excited about cycling and to understand how important it is to move more and make our air cleaner and healthier.”
The Council’s Bikeability instructors cycled the route with the pupils. Bikes and helmets were provided by the Active Calderdale Bike Library, where children and families can borrow donated bikes all year round. Bikeability cycle training is also available at schools and in the community, helping to build young people’s skills, confidence and safety when cycling.
Pupils taking part in the Schools Yorkshire Tour across West Yorkshire and York are proving it really is as easy as riding a bike on cycling infrastructure either built or upgraded through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60 million CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot.
In Calderdale this includes between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge on the Rochdale Canal towpath, and Sowerby Bridge Basin and Hollas Lane Bridge on the Calder Hebble Navigation towpath.
A number of schools taking part in the tour have also received support from CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools Scheme, including Riverside Junior School in Hebden Bridge.
Through the scheme, which is targeted at schools on or near to CityConnect routes, pupils can access a bike and free cycle training, with funding available for bike and scooter parking, as well as free training for staff to plan and deliver activities – all with the aim of helping more pupils and teachers make more journeys by bike.
Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said:
“It’s great to see so much of this year’s Schools Yorkshire Tour happening on infrastructure we’ve either built or improved through our CityConnect programme.
“Through CityConnect, the Combined Authority is working in partnership to make cycling and walking a viable option for all residents – regardless of age or ability – by not only delivering new and improved infrastructure, but also through initiatives such as our Bike Friendly Schools scheme.
“Instilling a love of cycling in children from a young age has long-lasting benefits, encouraging independent travel as a teenager and creating good habits for an active adult life.”
Work currently underway on a £2.1m scheme to improve cycling and walking access on a 6km section of the Rochdale Canal towpath between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden will build on the improvements to the 10km section between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge, providing communities along the Calder Valley with a traffic-free, flat and attractive alternative route to the A646.
The scheme will use Department for Transport funding secured by the Combined Authority and Calderdale Council, with additional contributions from both organisations.
From route information to free adult cycle training and bike maintenance training, online cycle challenges and support for businesses, find out how CityConnect can help you at cyclecityconnect.co.uk/makeyourmove(external link).