Hundreds More To Benefit As
Mayor’s Pioneering Cycle For Health Programme Expands In West Yorkshire

A scheme to tackle health inequalities by offering people an eight week programme of cycle skills training is being expanded across West Yorkshire after recent surveys showed that 100% of people taking part had felt happier.   

More than 1250 people across West Yorkshire have benefited from the Cycle for Health programme since it first launched six years ago. Previously participants needed to be referred to the programme by health care professionals, but the Mayor has now expanded the programme to allow people to self-refer in the hope it can reach hundreds more people in the region.   

In the past year alone, 176 people have taken part in the programme, with all of them stating the course had make them feel happier. The course also had a positive impact on mental and/or physical health issues with 60% suggesting it helped a lot.  

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:      

“I’ve seen first-hand the positive impacts this pioneering programme has had on participants physical and mental health. Therefore, I’m delighted to expand this programme to allow self-referrals which will help hundreds more people across the region reap the benefits of cycling.     

 “We want to make West Yorkshire better connected with a greener, simpler and cheaper transport network and this includes cycling and walking. I want people from all communities and backgrounds to have the same opportunities, being able to access innovative support programmes such as this and experience the real benefits it delivers for themselves.”    

The scheme is delivered in partnership with national charity Cycling UK. They deliver the programme across all five of West Yorkshire’s districts. It offers a structured route into regular activity for adults with long-term physical or mental health conditions who would particularly benefit from group exercise but may not otherwise have the opportunity to get involved.  

Andy Cremin, head of development at Cycling UK, said: 

“Cycling UK has been delivering this groundbreaking programme with West Yorkshire Combined Authority for six years now, and the results really speak for themselves, showing that cycling isn’t just about physical fitness. It has so many other benefits, particularly for mental health, and the skills and confidence we give people will stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

“If you could bottle the impact of the scheme and sell it as a pill it would change lives across the country, so we’re really excited it’s expanding, and hope to see other areas in the UK follow suit, launching similar courses.” 

The eight week course offers regular, low-impact activity with a familiar group of people and instructors. Participants can progress at their own pace, with support aimed at building long-term behaviour change and encouraging participants to remain active long after the course has finished.    

The courses are designed to be inclusive to everyone, and bikes are provided at sessions.   

Annette McEwan, 53, lives in Halifax and is a past Cycle for Health course participant. She suffered a life-changing car accident twenty years ago, and since then has had mobility issues due to her injuries. She is also bipolar and was forced to give up working due to mental health. She was referred to the Cycle for Health course during the pandemic. Annette said: 

 “The instructors were amazing, so supportive and considerate. I can’t walk very far without the aid of a walking stick, so when they told me I’d ridden a mile, with the help of my electric bike, I was so overjoyed with the achievement, I burst into tears. 

“It was just the most amazing thing for me as somebody with mobility problems to be able to go for a bike ride with friends – something I would never have done without the course.” 

To find out more and to refer onto the programme please visit;

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