Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford backs new cycle lane which runs from Elland Road Park and Ride to Leeds city centre
Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford said the opening of a new cycle lane in south Leeds was a step in the right direction in the battle against the "imminent threat" of climate change.
The 28-year-old joined children from Beeston Hill St Luke's Primary School, along with officials, for the opening of the new segregated bike lane between Elland Road Park and Ride and the city centre.
It is hoped the new lane will help people in south Leeds - often seen as cut-off from the rest of the city by the M621 - feel safe cycling into the city centre.
Bamford often uses his position to speak out about climate change - his 'bolt' symbol celebration is a nod to his work with a sustainable sports shoe company.
Bamford said: "There are a lot of beneficial factors to opening this. The environmental impact of using a car instead of driving your car is obviously very important.
"But it's for everyone's mental wellbeing as well, because ultimately it's physical exercise and we've seen during lockdown that people cherish the time to be able to go outside when they weren't allowed it."
As part of a £6.4 million package delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in partnership with the council, a route on Claypit Lane opened earlier this summer and a scheme to extend the existing segregated cycle lane on Dewsbury Road with a 1.5km section of new route between Garnet Road and Beeston Ring Road is underway.
Last year, the Yorkshire Evening Post's Unlock the Gridlock campaign, which set out five key transport priorities in response to concerns consistently raised by readers about the congestion and unreliable public transport networks that were blighting their lives on a daily basis.
Not everyone in Leeds has been positive about the introduction of more cycle lanes, but Bamford said changing things was also about people being able to care for themselves.
He said: "Part of it is self-caring - you're looking after yourself, health-wise and fitness-wise, and while doing that, you're also looking after the environment as there's a little bit less pollution when you're using your car.
"The big difference they make is they give people that feeling of safety because ultimately, I for sure would feel a little bit nervous getting on my bike and going on the road with loads of cars whizzing past me - so having this will hopefully encourage more people."
Bamford also reiterated how "vital" he felt tackling climate change was, adding that cycle lanes were just one step.
He added: "More always needs to be done as climate change is a really imminent threat.
"The unfortunate thing is, everyone's realising too late - but in order to make a change, you have to start with small things.
"Small steps lead to bigger things."
He added: "It's better being out on a bike than being sat in front of a TV all day."
Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, Coun Helen Hayden, said: “Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we offer options for walking and cycling as an everyday, natural and pleasant choice.
"It also plays an important role in improving connections for people in south Leeds to local jobs, education, and leisure opportunities.
"We want to inspire, and help others inspire, more people to consider walking or cycling for those shorter trips.
Coun Hayden added: "This new cycle route should make that an easier choice for the surrounding communities. Leaving a car at home and walking or cycling is good for our health, it’s good for our air, cuts congestion and makes our streets and roads safer.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Making it easier to cycle and walk, as well as travel by bus and train, is at the heart of my Mayoral pledges to make transport work for people and tackle the climate emergency on our way to becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038.
“A better and more inclusive transport network goes beyond getting people from A to B.
"It is about making sure everyone can access job, education and training opportunities and getting all of us — our people, our communities, our businesses - to where we want to be as a region."
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