OVER 2,000 children have had cycling support thanks to an initiative in local schools.

The project, tied in with the Bradford to Leeds Cycle Super Highway has seen over 980 children taught how to ride a bike for the first time, and many others given support on riding to school.

Since the 2016 opening of the Superhighway, which is the only segregated cycle superhighway between two major cities in the country, schools on or near the route have had additional help to get their pupils cycling through the CityConnect Bike Friendly Schools scheme.

It is a partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

In total 2,059 children from nine schools along the route have received intensive cycling training from the CityConnect team and instructors from Bradford-based BeCycling, with half of those learning to ride for the first time.

The scheme has proved especially popular among teachers, with 100 per cent of those who took part saying they would run the sessions again.

The scheme aims to help schools ensure all their pupils learn to ride by the time they leave school, through extra training for staff and loans of bikes. Extra training is available to complement the national Bikeability programme, with activities including helping Year 6 pupils ride to their secondary schools, enabling children to keep cycling as they take next steps in education.

Ian Larkin, Teacher and Cycle Champion for Pudsey Primrose Hill School said: “Becoming a bike friendly school has enabled us to further promote sustainable travel to and from school.

“Working closely with CityConnect allowed us to provide a wealth of cycling opportunities that our children would otherwise not have had.

“CityConnect helped us organise cycling workshops at our school for both children and parents to attend as well as supporting our end of year cycle for Year 6.

“All these positive experiences enriched our children’s learning as well as providing them with the chance to learn and master riding their bike.”

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the Transport Committee for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “In parts of West Yorkshire, as few as one in five households has access to a bike and an unfortunate consequence of this is that many children never learn to ride.

“By ensuring that schools can train those children who don’t learn at home, we’re giving many more people the chance to use and enjoy the improvements we’re making in future – and potentially encouraging more parents onto bikes as well.”

In addition to the cycle training sessions, 130 extra bike parking places have been installed at the participating schools, making it easier for pupils to cycle to and from school.

One of the schools to benefit is Fagley Primary School, which is is less than a quarter of a mile from the Cycle Superhighway. Last year the scheme helped the school secure a new cycle shelter with space for 22 bikes.

The next round of applications for the Bike Friendly Schools scheme is now open for schools during summer term.

This time more schools will be eligible, as the CityConnect team is looking to work in new areas including as a second phase of infrastructure projects gets underway across West Yorkshire and York.