Video: Thousands enjoy a ticket to Sky Ride in Leeds

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Leeds confirmed its reputation as the cycling capital of the North as thousands of people got themselves a ticket to Sky Ride.

The Sky Ride, of course, is the event which sees part of the city centre closed to traffic for the benefit of all those who enjoy travelling by pedal power.

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

And cyclists young and old yesterday seized the chance to hit the car-free streets on a 6.5km route that took them past famous local landmarks such as the University of Leeds, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Civic Hall.


Those riding high on a day blessed with gloriously sunny weather included James Smith and his nine-year-old son Bailey, from Farnley.

James told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s a great idea, especially as it’s all happening pretty much on our doorstep.

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

“I’m a wagon driver and get around Leeds’s roads a lot so it’s an interesting new angle to see them full of cyclists and nothing else. This is a good advert for Leeds and showcases the fact that we as a city are interested in cycling and want to stage more cycling events.”

Other riders included Chris Newton and Emma Lindsay, from Ripponden, near Halifax, and their children Sam, five, and Stanley, three.

Emma said: “We are trying to get them into cycling and this is a safe way of letting them ride on the roads.

“It’s a good family event that we can all take part in together.”

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

Also tackling the fourth Leeds Sky Ride was Ulla Boutwood, from Halton, and her four-year-old son Marcus.

Ulla told the YEP: “He’s been very excited about getting out and riding on the road as he’s normally not allowed to!

“The day has been brilliant, it’s really well organised and it’s good to see so many people here supporting it.”

The crowds also included Andreas Abeln, from Roundhay, and his eight-year-old son David. Andreas said: “I think one of the best things about it is that it will hopefully encourage more people to try cycling.”

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

PIC: Mark Bickerdike

There was positive feedback, too, on social media, with Julian Kingswood tweeting: “Had a great time earlier at @GoSkyRide in Leeds, brilliant weather/route – kids loved the bibs and medals.”

Cliff Sewell, meanwhile, tweeted: “Fantastic #SkyRide with my daughter in Leeds today.”

And Jessica Lily also took to Twitter to give the day her seal of approval, posting: “Quality last year, quality this year.” Yesterday’s circular route wound its way from The Headrow up Albion Street onto Merrion Street and past the First Direct Arena before striking out to Woodhouse Moor and back into the city centre. Millennium Square was a particular hive of activity, with a wide range of stalls and stands – including one occupied by an extremely busy cycle mechanics crew from Halfords.

A bustling market place area gave people the opportunity to find out more about schemes such as Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries and the Leeds-Bradford City Connect cycle superhighway.

And, for those in need of some rest and relaxation, dozens of deckchairs were arranged in front of a big screen showing games and other entertaining action. There was also plenty to see on Woodhouse Moor, where stunt cyclists were demonstrating a variety of tricks and moves.

Organisers of yesterday’s event included Sky, British Cycling and Leeds City Council.

Coun James Lewis, the council’s executive member with responsibility for sport, told the YEP: “The chance to build your confidence on a bike in a fun and safe city centre route whilst also enjoying the sights of some of Leeds’s most iconic buildings is certainly not something that happens every day.

“It was therefore fantastic to see so many people of all ages once again taking the opportunity to enjoy Sky Ride in our city.”

There was one piece of bad news for the participants, however – yesterday was the last time the event will be staged with its present name, as Sky’s eight-year partnership with British Cycling comes to an end in December. Leeds put itself well and truly on the global cycling map with its high-profile involvement in Yorkshire’s hugely-successful hosting of the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in 2014.

Then, last year, the city’s Roundhay Park was chosen as the finishing point for the last stage of the first ever Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.

And top-class competitive cycling returned to the city with a bang last month as it was given the honour of staging a leg of the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Series.