Pupils in Armley made the most of a traffic-free street outside the school gates on Clean Air Day by brushing up on their bike maintenance skills, thanks to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60 million CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot.

Pupils at Christ Church Upper Armley C of E Primary School were shown how to carry out a basic bike safety check, fix punctures, and adjust brakes and gears.

Pupils were free to play all afternoon on Christ Church Road, which was closed to vehicles between 1pm and 4pm as part of 11 school street openings across the city on Clean Air Day organised by Leeds City Council.    

The CityConnect team, alongside partners at Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, also supported school street openings at Manston Primary and Hillcrest Academy. 

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “Two-thirds of journeys made by West Yorkshire residents are under five miles.  With Public Health England estimating 1 in 20 deaths in West Yorkshire are attributable to air pollution, the case for making more of our journeys by bike, on foot and on public transport has never been stronger.

“From tackling air quality and reducing congestion to combatting physical inactivity and obesity, we know encouraging more of us to cycle and walk is key to overcoming some of our biggest challenges.

“In partnership with others, the Combined Authority is working to make cycling, walking and public transport the natural choice for everyday journeys so that every day becomes a clean air day in our region.” 

Christ Church Upper Armley and Manston are both CityConnect Bike Friendly Schools. 

Through the Bike Friendly Schools scheme, which is targeted at schools on or near to CityConnect routes, pupils can access a bike and free cycle training, with funding available for bike and scooter parking, as well as free training for staff to plan and deliver activities – all with the aim of helping more pupils and teachers make more journeys by bike.

Moira Hunt, Headteacher at Christ Church Upper Armley C of E Primary School, said: “We were delighted to be among the 11 schools who opened streets to children and their families across Leeds on Clean Air Day.

“From boosting physical activity to instilling good habits that last a life time, we know encouraging more of our pupils to cycle and walk to school brings real benefits.

“Taking part in CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme is a great opportunity for us to help our pupils – the commuters of the future – build active, healthy and pollution-free travel into their daily lives.”

Hillcrest Academy takes part in WOW, Living Streets’ year-round walk to school challenge.

Meltem Kesal, Living Streets Project Coordinator (Leeds), said: “A quarter of cars on our roads at peak times are on the school run. Closing school streets to traffic and encouraging families to walk to school has an incredibly positive impact on the air our children breathe.” 

CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme is run in partnership with Bradford-based BeCycling, with more than 50% of pupils who go through the scheme learning to ride for the first time.

To date pupils from 29 schools across West Yorkshire have received support through the scheme and more than 140 extra bike and scooter parking places have been installed at participating schools.

Find out more information about CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Schools scheme at;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/get-active/working-with-schools

Five Ways Cityconnect Can Help You Make Every Day A Clean Air Day

1. Cycling And Walking Routes

Communities across West Yorkshire and York are seeing the benefits of new, high quality cycling and walking infrastructure, including the Bradford Leeds Cycle Superhighway, Bradford’s new Canal Road Cycleway, the Castleford Wakefield Greenway and a series of canal towpath upgrades in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale, with construction work currently underway in Leeds city centre and on Scarborough Bridge, York.

Plan your journey with the online map at;

www.cyclemap.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/journey

2. Free Adult Cycle Training

Would you like to cycle but don’t feel like you have the skills or confidence?  From learning to ride to cycling in traffic, tackling busy junctions and roundabouts, and bike maintenance – whatever you need they have got it covered.  They will even provide you with a bike when you’re there.

Book a place on one of the free adult cycle training sessions at;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/cycle-training

3. Cycle Challenges

In need of some extra motivation?  Take part in the fun and friendly online cycle challenge – log your miles, set goals and earn badges for cycling to work for a week, riding 100 miles or encouraging a friend or colleague to take part. 

Register for Love to Ride at;

www.lovetoride.net/cityconnect

4. Support For Businesses

Employees who commute by bike are more productive and take fewer days off sick. They provide grants of up to £5,000, free expert advice and tailored support to help employers encourage more of their staff to cycle to work. 

Find out how they can help your organisation be more cycling friendly at;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/get-active/working-with-business

5. Tips For Building More Walking Into Your Daily Routine

According to government guidelines, adults need at least 150 minutes exercise a week but many of us struggle to build this level of physical activity into our busy lives – 39% of us don’t, according to the British Heart Foundation.  Walking short, local journeys is a simple, free and easy way to boost your activity levels.

Check out top tips to build more walking into your daily routine at;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/walking

Find out how CityConnect can help you by visiting;

www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/makeyourmove

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