Record numbers have been making the most of the summer weather on Bradford and Leeds cycling infrastructure, which was either built or improved as part of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to cycle and walk.
Between May and July, almost 120,000 trips were made on the award-winning Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway, which at 14km is the longest route of its kind in the UK. This is an overall increase of 26% on last year.
More than 10,000 journeys were made on the Stanningley Road section during July alone – the best month for usage since the cycle superhighway, which provides a route protected from traffic for people travelling by bike or on foot, opened in 2016.
Since resurfacing works on the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath between Kirkstall and Shipley in spring 2016 overall usage has increased significantly, with 150,000 trips recorded by counters at three locations between May and July – a 30% increase on the same months in 2016.
Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said:
“We’re delighted so many people have been making the most of these routes – not to mention the great weather – and travelling in a way that boosts their health and saves them money, as well as bringing wider environmental and economic benefits.
“Since opening in July 2016 the Superhighway has been used for more than 700,000 cycle trips, opening up walking and cycling routes to some of our most disadvantaged communities and connecting people with opportunities for work, training and leisure.
“We’re putting people at the heart of what we’re doing because we want West Yorkshire to be a place where nobody is left behind and everyone benefits from a modern transport network and a strong, successful economy.”
The cycle superhighway is a partnership project with Leeds City Council and the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
Communities across West Yorkshire and York are now seeing the benefits of new, high quality cycling and walking infrastructure, including the Castleford – Wakefield Greenway, which opened in March, and a series of canal towpath upgrades in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale, with construction work on York Scarborough Bridge due to start later this year.
This Wednesday (15 August) is Cycle to Work Day – a great opportunity to hop on a bike and see what all the fuss is about.
CityConnect’s top tips for your first cycle to work:
- Make sure your bike’s in good health. Check your brakes are ok, make sure there’s air in your tyres, that none of the fixtures and fittings are loose, and the chain is clean and oiled. Sustrans 11-step M-Check https://www.sustrans.org.uk is a good place to start or if in doubt take your bike for a once over at your local cycle shop.
- Pack a waterproof. The sun has been shining all summer but it’s always worth having a wet weather plan just in case. Don’t worry about being drenched in sweat – the great thing about being on a bike is you don’t always have to keep pedalling, just take it at your own pace.
- Plan your route. Cycling to work need not involve tackling busy roads. From the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the Castleford to Wakefield Greenway, there are some great traffic free options. Take a look at our handy online map http://cyclemap.cyclecityconnect.co.uk
- Recruit a bike buddy. If someone you know already cycles ask them which routes they use or even better ask them to ride with you as a bike buddy.
- Remember you don’t have to cycle the whole way. If you live too far away to cycle all the way to work you could always look into options for cycling part of the way and then catching a train or bus.
- Last but not least, enjoy it! Cycling to work can save you time and money, and it has been proven to boost health and happiness. What’s not to love?
For more information about how CityConnect can help you, your business, school or community cycle and walk more visit the website https://cyclecityconnect.co.uk
Case study: Rob Young and his son Angus
Since July 2016 the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway has been helping make cycling and walking a viable option for all residents, regardless of age or ability.
The CityConnect team caught up with the Rob Young to hear how the cycle superhighway is helping the whole family make more trips by bike.
My wife, Emma and I, regularly use the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway to cycle to work and into Leeds.
I recently needed to pick up our car from a garage on the A647 Armley Road and I decided to cycle there with my six-year-old son, Angus, instead of getting a bus – something I would never have considered doing if the cycle superhighway wasn’t there.
On the whole, the experience was a good one. Angus said he felt safe and he was glad he wasn’t on the main road.
The whole family feel a lot safer using cycle superhighway and it really helps us cut down on travel time, especially at rush hour.
A lifelong passion: I have been riding bikes since the age of six when I got a Raleigh Budgie, which I loved riding with my friends.
I really got into cycling when I was 17 when I got my first mountain bike and spent most weekends mountain biking in Wales or taking part in races.
Ten years ago I got a road bike through the Cycle to Work Scheme so I could ride to work in Bramley from my home in Keighley.
I have since enjoyed long distance rides, including legs of the Tour de Yorkshire and the Coast to Coast.
As my wife and I are both keen cyclists it was only natural to get our sons into cycling so we could all enjoy a healthy family activity together in the fresh air.
Both Angus and his younger brother, Callum, got balance bikes when they turned two and were on pedal bikes at the age of three.
They cycle or scoot to and from school, and we have enjoyed family bike rides along disused railways and at mountain biking centres.
Being the change you want to see: I would like to see more children riding bikes both for pleasure and for transport.
I think it’s important to provide segregated cycle routes to give less confident riders the opportunity to get out on their bikes in a safe environment.
As both my wife and I are passionate about getting children cycling we have recently qualified as British Cycling ride leaders with the aim of providing family-friendly bike rides.
My advice to anyone wanting to start or return to cycling with or without their children is to just have a go – you don’t have to go far, just start small and build it up over time.
Do a mile or so to begin with, turn round and come back. Take it steady and most of all, enjoy it.
Still in need of some motivation? Cycle September, a UK-wide event aimed at encouraging more people to cycle, is just around the corner and the CityConnect team is inviting everyone to step up to the challenge and help West Yorkshire top the leaderboard.
For more information or to register visit https://www.lovetoride.net/cityconnect