The Schools Yorkshire Tour – One incredible journey and achievement

On Tuesday the 3rd July 2018, pupils from Brownhill Primary School and St. Augustine’s Catholic Primary School in Leeds rode the last leg of the Schools Yorkshire Tour, and brought the 400-mile cycling relay across Yorkshire to a close. 

As the pupils rode into Millennium Square to hand over the baton to the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Graham Latty, Welcome to Yorkshire’s Sir Gary Verity and Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families Councillor Lisa Mulherin. They were greeted by a huge welcome from children who had taken part in the Schools Yorkshire Tour, as well as the awaiting TV crew from Look North.SYT blog 1

Building on from the success of the Leeds Schools Cycle Challenge the Influencing Travel Behaviour Team wanted to capture this interest and use it to show how cycling can be made to be a part of everyday life, and help communities promote cycling as a sustainable mode of transport. The Schools’ Yorkshire Tour was developed on the back of this success.

The overall aim of the Schools’ Yorkshire Tour was to encourage more young people to take up cycling, by promoting cycling as a fun and ‘cool’ method of transport. As a result increasing the number of pupils cycling safely to school on a daily basis whilst improving the health of children and therefore reducing congestion outside schools and improving air quality.

Cycling to and from school is a great way for children and parents to incorporate physical activity into their day. Cycling allows children to travel quickly and independently through their local areas, providing not just autonomy and a learning experience, but a daily sense of achievement.

SYT blog 4The Schools Yorkshire Tour is the ideal event to show children, parents and schools that commuting to school by bicycle is a realistic option. By planning safe routes from school to school it will help people realise that they can cycle around their local areas and communities safely by using new and existing cycling infrastructure.

The tour started in North Yorkshire and passed through East Riding, York, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield, Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale before ultimately finishing in Leeds with a massive celebration event at Leeds Civic Hall which was attended by representatives from each school which has taken part. The children from participating authorities were wowed by Danny Butler as he performed his Extreme Mountain Bike Stunt Show.

The young cyclists were also able to meet Brian Robinson BEM who was the first Briton to finish the Tour de France and the first to win a Tour stage, at the welcome event. TheSYT blog 2 children were excited to get Brian Robinson BEM to sign their Schools Yorkshire Tour t-shirts, which they will keep as a momentum of their amazing achievement.

The final stage of the Schools Yorkshire Tour saw pupils travel down City Connect’s new section of the Cycle Superhighway, providing a cycle route protected from traffic between Seacroft and the city centre.

The tour was organised by Leeds City Council, in partnership with the Participating authorities across Yorkshire. Other Partnerships included Welcome to SYT 4Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Sustrans and PWLC Projects, and was supported by YPO, Streetbikes, The Works Skate Park, Child Friendly Leeds, Active Schools Leeds and West Yorkshire Police.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families said:

“The Schools Yorkshire Tour welcome event will give the children who’ve taken part a chance to meet and celebrate what they have achieved.

“As well as gaining valuable cycling and road safety skills, being part of an event like this shows the children and young people that cycling is a fun, healthy and accessible mode of travel, and will hopefully encourage everyone to cycle more often.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning said:

“Our sustainable travel team have done a fantastic job pulling this tour together with all our partners from across the region. By working together we can encourage more young people to take up cycling both as a fun activity but also as a way to get to school. Increasing the number of pupils who cycle safely to school is a key priority and helps to reduce congestion outside the school gates, which in turn helps improve air quality for all our residents.”

Sir Gary Verity DL, Chief Executive at Welcome to Yorkshire said:

“These young cyclists deserve a celebration after playing their part in a fantastic event which has brought together children from right across the county. I’ll be delighted to see them cross the finish line and am really looking forward to judging the imaginative entries of the ‘bling a bike’ competition.

“I hope the Schools Yorkshire Tour – as well as races like the Tour de Yorkshire and 2019 UCI Road World Championships – will inspire children to keep riding and enjoy the many health, social and environmental benefits cycling brings.”

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said:

“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.

“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 – by delivering new and improved infrastructure, such as the Cycle Superhighway, and through initiatives such as our Bike Friendly Schools scheme.

“From tackling physical inactivity and obesity to reducing congestion on our roads and improving air quality – more people travelling by bike or on foot benefits us all.

One Proud Dad said:

“Seeing the schools embrace the idea and give not only those competing but all children time out the classroom to get involved was just brilliant to see. Inspiring children to keep healthy and through sport is such an important thing to be promoting.”

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Are you feeling inspired by the Schools Yorkshire Tour to do more cycling this summer?

Feel free to share you cycling adventures on our @SaferRoadsLeeds Twitter page.

Follow this link for tips on how to plan your cycle routes and how to incorporate cycling into your everyday routine.

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