Leeds triathlete and double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee MBE, has been named as the city’s first Active Travel ambassador.
In his new role, Alistair will add his support to initiatives, projects and infrastructure projects being undertaken through the city’s Active Travel campaign, which key aim is to encourage more people to incorporate walking and cycling as part of their day-to-day journeys.
Alistair is passionate about more people of all ages taking part in physical activity, and is looking forward to the opportunity as an Active Travel ambassador, to champion and provide a voice on an issue that is very close to his heart. The council will now be working with Alistair on the make-up of the role, and to ensure it fits in around the continuing demands of his busy training and competing schedule.
One such high-profile initiative which Alistair has already added his support to is the introduction of new cycle routes and facilities in Leeds, as part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme. Joining Alistair at the launch today after he cycled with other riders a segment of the new £7.9m city centre cycle superhighway, was leader of Leeds City Council, Cllr Judith Blake, Cllr Lisa Mulherin, Cllr Mohammed Rafique and deputy chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee, Cllr Manisha Kaushik.
The new route has added an extra 4km of segregated cycle lanes to Leeds’s growing cycle network, with proposals for a further 6kms of new cycle superhighways through the CityConnect programme. In addition, the council will soon start to build phase one (4.8kms) of the orbital cycle highway, which will run on the outer ring road from Red Hall to King Lane. This forms part of an ambitious city-wide programme, which led by the council and partners has set out the aim ambition to create over 800kms (500miles) of network, the city now has 172km (over 107miles) of cycle network. The council’s educational work encourages safe and sustainable active travel, across the city. Last year, 22,000 pupils benefitted from pedestrian skills and bike ability training.
These types of initiatives alongside the buzz created from high-profile and global sporting events such as World Tri-Series, World Cycling Championships and Tour de Yorkshire are also making a tremendous difference to increasing participation. Since 2008, there has been an estimated 216 per cent increase in inbound cycling towards the city centre.
By March 2021, Connecting Leeds will see £270 million invested in public transport which will also encourage active travel, including new cycling routes along key bus corridors and in the city centre.
Working with partners, Active Leeds, which provides the council’s health and fitness provision in the city, is also promoting ‘Get Set Leeds’, an initiative for people to share ideas on what getting active means to them and what changes in the city might get them moving more. To find out more about Get Set Leeds, and to take part in a short survey, please see: https://getsetleeds.co.uk/have-your-say/
Double Olympic triathlon champion, Alistair Brownlee MBE, said: “As someone who trains nearly every day on the roads of Leeds and used to cycle to school, I am really passionate about promoting the opportunities that are available for people to be able to cycle or walk as part of their day-to-day journeys.
“I feel very proud to be named as the city’s first Active Leeds Travel Ambassador and to add my support to the projects and initiatives being done in the city to encourage people of all ages to have more of an active lifestyle.
“I look forward to helping lots more people discover the amazing benefits of active travel, from saving money to keeping healthy.”
Leader of Leeds City Council, Council Cllr Judith Blake, added: “To have someone of Alistair’s stature as our city’s first Active Travel ambassador is really fantastic news. Alistair has always been a great advocate for Leeds, and from our conversations with him, it is clear that he has a real passion for this agenda. Having him therefore as an ambassador will not only a be great boost in helping us to spread the message of what we are doing through Active Travel campaign, but also to encourage more people to participate.”