Ten years since the Grand Depart: A weekend of cycling celebrations: Leeds City Council's safe and sustainable travel team with Dawn Barrett's sister

09 Jul 2024

Ten years since the Grand Depart: A weekend of cycling celebrations

Highways Cycling

Leeds was riding high over the weekend as it marked the 10th anniversary of Yorkshire’s unforgettable staging of the Tour de France Grand Depart.

Hundreds of amateur cyclists took to the city’s streets yesterday for Legacy Ride, a mass participation event celebrating the milestone anniversary.

Saturday, meanwhile, saw City Square hosting a bike-themed programme of activities, competitions and other fun for all the family.

Together the two events provided the perfect illustration of how, 10 years on from the Grand Depart, cycling is playing a bigger part than ever in local life.

Research by Leeds City Council has shown that, between 2017 and 2023, the number of people using cycle lanes in the city centre and surrounding areas rose by an impressive 40 per cent.

Cycle routes in the centre of Leeds today cover over 12 kilometres. This growing network provides safe, connected, and sustainable travel options for Leeds citizens to get around the city centre and helps the council’s efforts to encourage active travel while also supporting its net zero ambitions.

Leeds’s cycling opportunities grew in strength last year following the launch of Leeds City Bikes, the fully electric public bike hire service.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, transport and sustainable development, said:

“I’m proud to see our city come together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Grand Depart in Yorkshire. The enthusiasm and support from residents, whether interested in cycling or people who ride a bike themselves, made the day truly special.

“We want Leeds to be a city where you don’t need a car. A key part of this is expanding and supporting our cycling network to encourage greater uptake of active travel in a safe and sustainable way.

“We have a vision that by 2040 there will be no road deaths in Leeds and designing infrastructure that caters for all road users is one of the ways we’re trying to achieve this.”

The past decade has seen significant improvements in cycling infrastructure, including the creation of segregated cycle lanes, which is an important part of achieving Vision Zero, the council’s ambition to eliminate fatal and serious road injuries on Leeds roads by 2040.

Celebrating a summer of sport in Leeds continued Saturday, in City Square, adjacent to Leeds train station where there is a pop-up event space. This now reclaimed public space, reimagined last year by Connecting Leeds in line with Vision Zero, saw the removal of through-traffic to create a safe pedestrian and cycle-friendly environment.

The City Square event space hosted activities for families to learn about cycling in Leeds. British Cycling brought a pump track for young people to discover the fun of cycling, and for those who brought their bike, they could register their bike with Bike Register so in the event their bike is stolen it can be reunited with the owner if found, and for bike repairs, the Dr Bike service was on hand to offer bike checks and repairs.

As part of the region-wide Walk it Ride it campaign, launched by the Mayor of West Yorkshire this year, representatives from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority joined the City Square event to discuss the benefits of choosing sustainable modes of transport – including walking, cycling and wheeling.

Sunday saw hundreds of cyclists embarking on one of three challenging routes of 70km,120km or 230km through some of Yorkshire’s most scenic roads and locations, leading them to the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

In a special tribute, a group from Leeds City Council’s safe and sustainable travel team took part in the Legacy ride. This was to celebrate the life of Dawn Barrett, who sadly passed away from terminal cancer in 2023 after heading up the delivery of Leeds City Bikes. The team rode in a relay, on the three-speed electric Leeds City Bikes 25km each through the tough Yorkshire Dales countryside.

Matt Mannakee, director and co-founder of Struggle Events, said:

“What a brilliant turnout we had from the local community and cyclists from all over the country. The Tour de France has had a lasting impact on Yorkshire’s cycling scene, so it was great to celebrate that legacy.”

Ben Davison, director and co-founder of Axiologik, said:

“The Grand Depart will go down in Yorkshire’s history as a landmark event that kickstarted a new era of cycling. It was a real treat to play a part in commemorating such an unforgettable event by sponsoring Legacy Ride and to celebrate such a memorable day with friends and clients.”


For media enquiries contact:

Sophie Oldham Davison
Leeds City Council