Award-winning CityConnect welcomes visitors from across the UK

Delegates from across the country visited West Yorkshire this week to see how the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) is leading the way in getting more people cycling and walking.

In 2013 eight cities – including West Yorkshire – were awarded Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG) funding from Government. In West Yorkshire the CCAG-funded CityConnect programme is being delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in partnership with the local authorities of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York.

Representatives of the other “cycle cities” – Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Oxford – saw ambitious and pioneering new infrastructure including the 14 km Leeds to Bradford Cycle Superhighway, which earlier this year won the Northern Transport Award’s ‘Transport Project of the Year’.

Since opening in summer 2016 the Cycle Superhighway has seen more than 500,000 trips made on it. Work with businesses, schools, communities, jobseekers and apprentices across the region is ongoing and so far more than 16’000 people have been engaged, including over 2000 school children from 13 schools along the route.

On Thursday the delegates met in Wakefield to visit the newly completed Castleford to Wakefield Greenway, delivered with the second round of CCAG funding. The group then moved on to Wakefield Town Hall where they found out more about the achievements of the CityConnect programme, including details of the 2017 surveys in which 61% of users surveyed reported their confidence had increased due to the Cycle Superhighway.

On Wednesday the group rode out from Leeds, along the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath to the new Kirkstall Forge urban village. The towpath, which was upgraded as part of the first round of CCAG funding, means there is a high-quality traffic-free link to the new development site, making cycling and walking an easy and convenient way to travel.

The visitors also called in at car leasing firm, Zenith, which has recently been recognised as a ‘bike friendly’ employer through the CityConnect Bike Friendly Business scheme. With more than 100 businesses across the region involved, this is just one of several schemes delivered through the CityConnect communications and engagement project to encourage more people to see cycling as an easy, cheap and healthy way to travel.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“It’s great to be able to show the other cycle cities what we have already achieved through the CityConnect project. The award-winning Leeds to Bradford Cycle Superhighway is the longest piece of segregated cycle infrastructure between two cities in this country. The projects being delivered as part of the second round of funding are building on our ambition to make walking and cycling the most obvious and convenient choice for short journeys around our region.

“What really makes the CityConnect project unique is the way it combines development of new cycling and walking infrastructure with a comprehensive suite of engagement initiatives to encourage people to use this infrastructure. Initiatives which are building the foundations for a society in which cycling and walking is the norm.

“This is something that needs to happen nationally and we are pleased to be able to share how we are delivering against this ambition with the rest of the cycle cities.”

Image shows school children from schools on Barkerend Road using the Cycle Superhighway.