Tour de France legacy lives on in Armley
Christian Prudhomme see grassroots cycling in action on eve of 2019 Tour de Yorkshire route announcement[caption id="attachment_3516" align="alignleft" width="450"] Christian Prudhomme, Sir Gary Verity and Cllr Kim Groves with volunteers at New Wortley Community Centre[/caption]
The legacy of Yorkshire’s Tour de France Grand Depart was in the spotlight today (Thursday 6 December) as people from two grassroots cycling projects in Armley - supported by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people travel by bike or on foot - met with Tour de France Race Director Christian Prudhomme, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair Cllr Kim Groves and Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity.
As part of a whistle-stop tour of the region ahead of tomorrow’s Tour de Yorkshire 2019 route announcement, Christian, Cllr Groves and Gary met volunteers at New Wortley Community Centre’s Bike Library before heading to Castleton Primary School, where pupils were taking part in a cycling skills session.
Earlier this year, the Bike Library based at the community centre received £10,000 through CityConnect’s community grants scheme to help fund a member of staff to develop the project and increase the numbers of people cycling in the area.
The community centre now has six regular volunteers reconditioning bikes for the Bike Library. More than 120 people have taken part in activities there, including hiring a bike, led rides and bike maintenance training sessions.
To date more than 20 community projects across West Yorkshire have been awarded a total of £170,000 funding through the CityConnect programme to deliver grassroots initiatives enabling people living and working in their community to access work, school or training opportunities by cycling or walking.
Rebecca Houlding, Building Blocks Manager at New Wortley Community Centre, said: “Thanks to the funding from CityConnect we’ve been able to maximise the Bike Library’s potential and the progress we’ve made during this project has created a valuable local resource, which will continue to benefit residents in the future.”
As part of its Bike Friendly Schools scheme, the CityConnect team has also been working with Castleton Primary School, where every year five and six pupil can ride a bike.
Working with children and staff at schools on or near CityConnect routes, including the award-winning Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway, the scheme provides access to loan bikes, as well as cycle training for pupils and staff, led rides and improved bike storage.
From learning to ride for the first time to making the journey to secondary school by bike, more than 3,300 children have received support through the Bike Friendly Schools scheme.
Graham Jones, Inclusion Support Manager at Castleton Primary, said: “From boosting physical activity to instilling good travel habits that last a life time, we know encouraging more of our pupils to cycle and walk brings real benefits.
“Taking part in CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme is a great opportunity to get more of our pupils cycling.”
Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “Through our CityConnect programme, the Combined Authority is working in partnership to make cycling and walking a viable option for all residents, regardless of age or ability. This work is key to ensuring the legacy of the Tour de France Grand Depart, and now the Tour de Yorkshire, for many years to come.
“Building on work in our schools and communities, we know cycling is a great way for everyone to get around and have fun, whilst also enjoying the fresh air. 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.”
Sir Gary Verity DL, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “It was fantastic to see so many young people engaging with cycling in Leeds today. We are incredibly proud of our bike libraries which are a direct legacy of the Grand Depart being held in Yorkshire, and we all know the Tour de Yorkshire is so much more than a bike race. It brings communities together but also inspires people to get out and give cycling a go. The cycling skills sessions provided by CityConnect are invaluable. It was really great for myself and Christian to get out and meet some of the people who give us so much support during the Tour de Yorkshire to thank them in person and confirm the race will be back in the area in 2019.”
Through the CityConnect programme and in partnership with others, the Combined Authority is not only building new cycling and walking routes and improving existing infrastructure, it also offers a range of free services, including route information, adult cycle training, online challenges and support for businesses.