New cycle parking and cycling skills boost for Co-op Academy Priesthorpe pupils

Pupils at a secondary school in Leeds have received new bike facilities and a cycling skills boost, thanks to a joint initiative by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council aimed at encouraging more pupils to travel to school sustainably, by bike or on foot.

Year seven and eight pupils from Co-op Academy Priesthorpe Secondary School have been receiving cycle training this week through CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme, following the installation of a 32-space indoor cycle parking facility jointly funded with Leeds City Council. As part of the training programme, pupils have enjoyed a range of cycling activities, delivered by Bradford-based BeCycling, and taken on the challenges of an obstacle course with limbo, ramps and a seesaw to improve their cycling skills.

Co-op Academy Priesthorpe is the first secondary school in West Yorkshire to receive grant funding to become a Bike Friendly School, delivered through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme. The new cycle storage will enable more pupils and staff to cycle to and from school, and encourage more young people to travel independently. This will reduce the need for parents driving to the school and bring with it the associated benefits of a healthier and active lifestyle for both pupils and staff, whilst cutting the number of children travelling to school by car and improving air quality in the surrounding area.

The scheme, which is targeted at schools such as Co-op Academy Priesthorpe that are located near or on CityConnect routes, provides grants, support and advice to help pupils and teachers make more journeys by bike. Starting in February 2017, more than 3,500 pupils from 21 schools have received support through the scheme.

Co-op Academy Priesthorpe sits alongside the 23km Cycle Superhighway which connects Bradford to Leeds to encourage cycle journeys on a predominantly off road cycle route.

Martin Blacoe, Principle at Co-op Academy Priesthorpe said: “The new cycle storage and training will enable and encourage more pupils to cycle along the CityConnect route. This will reduce the number of pupils travelling to school by car which will benefit the surrounding area by creating a more pleasant and safer environment for pupils and the local community. “

The CityConnect team has recently started working with schools in Calderdale and Kirklees to coincide with new routes being built and existing routes being improved as part of the CityConnect programme.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “Through CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme, the team has worked with a number of the primary feeder schools for Priesthorpe and our work with pupils during their initial years of secondary school is yet another piece in the jigsaw.

“By giving children who may not have the opportunity at home to build their skills and confidence on confidence on the bike, this scheme is helping make cycling a viable option for more of our young people, regardless of their circumstances.

“We know cycling is a great way to get around and have fun, while also enjoying the outdoors. Encouraging more of us to travel by bike or on foot not only boosts people’s health and saves individuals money, it also brings wider environmental and economic benefits, which is why we want to make cycling and walking a natural choice for short, everyday journeys, including the school run.”

Councillor Richard Lewis Executive Board Member for Transport, Regeneration and Planning at Leeds City Council, said: “It has been fantastic to see so many children from across Leeds embrace and show such enthusiasm for the CityConnect Bike Friendly Schools Scheme. Through the initiative, we are not only providing young people and staff with the training and confidence to travel by bike, but also crucially investing significant amounts of funding in top-class cycling infrastructure at our schools. The recently installed 32-space indoor bike parking facility at Priesthorpe secondary school is a great example of this, and we are looking forward to working with more schools in the future through the Bike Friendly Cycling Scheme.”