Leeds councillors to discuss construction of Olympic-standard velodrome

Assertion that there is ‘a huge appetite for cycling’ supported by recent British Cycling figures

A Leeds councillor is convinced there is a case for building an Olympic-standard velodrome in the city, reports the Yorkshire Post, and the matter is to be discussed at a Leeds City Council meeting.

Liberal Democrat councillor, Brian Cleasby, who represents Horsforth, has put forward the idea, arguing that it would be an excellent means of capitalising on cycling enthusiasm borne of the Grand Départ last year.

“It is pretty obvious that there is an enormous appetite for cycling in this area and I want to build on that. People might say it is far-fetched but if Manchester can do it, then there is no reason why we can’t do the same – or better. Let’s get a debate started.”

Cleasby wants council officers to look for funding and investigate potential sites in the Leeds City Region, which comprises Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Bradford, Calderdale, Harrogate, York, Selby, Craven and Barnsley.

The matter will be discussed at a full meeting of Leeds City Council taking place on Wednesday, July 8.

The Yorkshire Grand Départ was notable for the huge numbers of spectators lining the roads and the race certainly had a significant impact on tourism. In the period from July to September in 2014, Yorkshire hosted 472,000 overseas visitors – a record for this three-month period and up by 19 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.

However, the impact on cycling levels is less clear. Recent figures from the Active People Survey, conducted by Sport England, revealed that just 9.5 per cent of West Yorkshire residents cycled at least once a month in 2013-14 – the lowest for any county or metropolitan area in England.

This represented a decrease of 0.9 per cent compared to the 10.4 per cent who cycled that often in 2012-13, despite the survey covering a period from October to October, which includes the Tour’s visit. The figures were far more positive in neighbouring areas however, such as the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and the City of York.

Certainly, recent figures from British Cycling paint an encouraging picture for the region as a whole. The Yorkshire Post reports that almost 5,000 more people in Yorkshire are cycling at least once a week even though national cycling participation has dropped by 50,000.

Responding to the news, Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said:

“To think it’s exactly a year since the world’s greatest bike race came to this county is scarcely believable but I’m extremely proud of the impact the Grand Départ has had on Yorkshire.

“You only have to look at Yorkshire’s roads to see more people have taken to cycling in the county and these new figures are confirmation of just how much Yorkshire wants to be the cycling of capital of Europe. The Grand Départ last year, and the Tour de Yorkshire this year, have proven to be just as inspirational as we hoped they would be.”

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