An innovative West Yorkshire Combined Authority scheme is offering job seekers and apprentices discounted bikes and free cycle training to help them make the most of local work and leisure opportunities.

Funded through the Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking to Work Fund, CityConnect Cycles will support anyone across West Yorkshire claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit or undertaking an apprenticeship with reduced cost bikes and access to basic, intermediary and advanced cycle training courses. The cycle training offer is also available to local people in West Yorkshire who would like to learn the skills and gain the confidence to cycle to work.

The project is one of the first of its kind in the country and comes after a successful pilot earlier this year that trained almost 150 people. Of these, a quarter who already had a bike now cycle regularly for transport while there has been a 65% increase in participants who now cycle at least once a week.

The new scheme officially launched on Thursday 10 August 2017. Training is provided by Sustrans and BikeRight! and will follow government guidance to help people learn how to cycle on the roads. Once signed up online at;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/cycle-training

People will be able to access training from CityConnect’s cycle training hubs at Fearnville Leisure centre, in Leeds; University Academy, in Keighley; Thornes Park Stadium, in Wakefield; Leeds Road Sports Complex, in Kirklees; and King Cross fire station, in Calderdale.

The basic training courses cover off and on-road cycling techniques for new cyclists, refreshing skills and building confidence. Meanwhile, the intermediate and advanced courses are specially designed to help people cycle efficiently and quickly in busy urban centres and places where there isn’t an alternative off-road cycle route. The three levels of the course offer something for everyone – from someone who’s not cycled since childhood to someone who’s out on their bike every day.

The training follows the same principles used in other projects across the country, such as BikeAbility in primary schools, training for police cycle units and paramedic first responders, and even practical cycling courses taking Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers on bikes through city centres.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair, said:

“This initiative is going to have a real impact in West Yorkshire, not only for cycling but also for those who’re looking for work. Transport is such an important part of any economy and cycling is a cheap and flexible mode, providing you have a bike and can ride it with confidence. For someone who doesn’t have access to a car, they would have trouble taking on a job that includes shift work when public transport might not be running, or at a workplace that doesn’t have a bus stop nearby. This scheme also ties in with the Bike Friendly Business award – helping business’ employees get extra training and extra support as they try cycling to work.”

Liz Clarke, Managing Director of BikeRight! said:

“This project in West Yorkshire is similar to successful schemes that BikeRight! have delivered in other areas of the country. Working with Sustrans and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, BikeRight! will focus on the delivery of cycle training, bicycle maintenance courses and provision of bikes and journey assistance. We’ll be looking to set up an office and workshop, employing local people to provide this valuable service to West Yorkshire communities.”

Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans’ England Director North, said:

“We’re really excited to help more people get on their bikes and use the growing number of quality cycle routes in West Yorkshire. Getting the confidence to ride a bicycle for your everyday travel can be life-changing. Bikes are cheap to run, they’re often quicker than a car in urban areas and they make people feel healthier and happier.”

Sign up to CityConnect Cycles by contacting the team online at;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/cycle-training

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