SCHOOLCHILDREN across the district have got on their bikes to take part in a countywide initiative.

The Schools Yorkshire Tour is seeing youngsters cycle in relay, carrying a baton, through 11 local-authority areas.

Eastwood and Parkwood in Keighley, Riddlesden St Mary’s, Silsden and Eastburn schools have all been involved in the project.

The local leg of the relay took place along the recently-upgraded section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath between Riddlesden and Silsden.

Cycle routes either built or refurbished through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60 million CityConnect programme, aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot, have been used to host the event in this region.

The relay began in York and will finish at Doncaster on July 2.

A number of the schools taking part have received support from the CityConnect Bike Friendly Schools scheme.

It gives pupils free access to bikes and cycle training, offers funding for cycle and scooter parking and trains staff to stage activities.

Councillor Kim Groves, chairman of the combined authority’s transport committee, said: “It’s great to see so much of this year’s Schools Yorkshire Tour happening on infrastructure we’ve either built or improved through the CityConnect programme.

“Through CityConnect, we are working in partnership to make cycling and walking a viable option for all residents – regardless of age or ability – by not only delivering new and improved infrastructure, but also through initiatives such as our Bike Friendly Schools scheme.

“Instilling a love of cycling in children from a young age has long-lasting benefits, encouraging independent travel as a teenager and creating good habits for an active adult life.”

The relay has also involved North Yorkshire County Council’s road safety and travel awareness team. Members carried the baton around parts of the county, taking in schools, before it was transported to Leeds by train for the next part of the journey.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, executive member for public health, said: “It was wonderful to see schools taking part in an event that demonstrates so clearly how cycling can become an enjoyable and healthy part of their lives.”