Health: We should ignore the myths and get cycling

Bradley Kyle-Ding, Harry Peyton, Evie Wale, Matilda Coleman, and Arwen Goodland (left to right) from Ninelands Primary School, in Garforth, are taking part in the Big Pedal 2015. Picture by James Hardisty.
Bradley Kyle-Ding, Harry Peyton, Evie Wale, Matilda Coleman, and Arwen Goodland (left to right) from Ninelands Primary School, in Garforth, are taking part in the Big Pedal 2015. Picture by James Hardisty.
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Cycling is dangerous and riders hog the roads.

Those are the kind of misconceptions that serve only to create a divisive relationship between road users.

Having embraced cycling ahead of last year’s Grand Depart, I can vouch for the physical benefits and the enjoyment factor of what is a fantastic sport and exercise.

Seeing initiatives like the Sustrans charity’s ongoing Big Pedal, which is urging pupils, staff and families to cycle or scoot to school until March 20, helps to highlight the benefits.

Most cyclists aren’t on a two-wheeled crusade and most drivers don’t deliberately try to endanger riders, but the two groups are often seen as rivals.

It’s not a helpful debate in truth. We shouldn’t forget that Leeds and wider Yorkshire has a proud cycling heritage. From record-breaking housewife Beryl Burton to triathlon stars the Brownlees, our region has been a breeding ground for cycling greats – there has always been room for cyclists.

I would be lying if I said I’ve never been scared on a bike though – especially when in the face of lorries – but I would never try to put people off.

The fact of the matter is that if the city’s growing cycle lane network keeps blossoming and both riders and drivers take care on the roads, cycling will continue to cut congestion and boosts our region’s health.

Huge pelotons of cyclists taking up busy roads don’t help nor do impatient drivers but, with the Tour de Yorkshire on its way, the county is rightly gearing up for another fantastic cycling year.

The pupils backing the Big Pedal are the next generation of cyclists and drivers, so let’s cut out the rivalry and make the most of the cycling scenery for their sake.

THE BIG PEDAL

Nationwide more than 1,700 schools and 518,000 children are taking part in the Big Pedal 2015.

Schools log their journeys daily and place on an online leader board at www.bigpedal.org.uk.

In Yorkshire alone last year more than 150 schools took part and made a total of 91,101 journeys by bike or scooter.

The national winners can earn themselves scooter or mountain bike stunt shows at their schools or days out.

Sustrans claims that almost two-fifths of parents in Yorkshire say their child does as little as 40 minutes of exercise or less every week day – well below the recommended hour.

PIC: Simon Hulme

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