PUPILS have taken part in a cycling baton relay across Yorkshire to encourage more young people to take up the sport.

The Schools’ Yorkshire Tour has been developed by 12 local authorities, including North Yorkshire County Council, in partnership with Sustrans and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

It aims to encourage more young people to take up cycling as part of an active lifestyle and a mode of transport. It also hopes to increase the number of pupils cycling safely to school and, by doing so, also reduce congestion and improve air quality around schools.

Children involved in the tour pass the baton on to other schools in Yorkshire to highlight the campaign.

The Schools’ Yorkshire Tour began in Pickering in North Yorkshire on Tuesday morning (June 5) with pupils from St Joseph’s School carrying the baton to the town’s railway station, where it was taken by steam train to Whitby.

There, military trainees with YH Training marched the baton through the town to Whitby Abbey, before handing it to pupils from Eskdale School. It was then passed to other schools in the town before the baton finished the day at East Whitby Academy School.

On Wednesday (6 June) the baton continued its journey with the help of Scarborough schools before being taken out of the county to Flamborough Primary School by local cycling group Breeze Ladies Cycle Club.

The baton then passes through East Riding, York, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield, Kirklees, Bradford and Calderdale, involving 162 schools and travelling 400 miles before finishing in Millennium Square, Leeds, with a celebration in the Civic Hall on Tuesday, July 3.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for Transport, said: “It is very exciting to be involved in the start of this large-scale regional event.

“As this year’s Tour de Yorkshire cycle race recently highlighted, the huge interest in cycling continues to grow, so this is an opportunity to show our young people how they can make cycling a safe, regular part of their everyday life.”

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, executive member for Public Health, added: “Encouraging young people in North Yorkshire to be active in this way fits with our Healthy Child objective to give them all the best possible start in life, so it is wonderful to see so many taking part in an event that shows how cycling can easily become an enjoyable and healthy part of their lives.”

County Councillors David Jeffels, member for Seamer and Derwent Valley, and Derek Bastiman, member for Scalby and the Coast, funded t-shirts and plimsoll bags for children taking part from their locality budgets.

Cllr Jeffels said: “The schools’ cycle baton relay is an exciting event for young people, building on the great success of the Tour de Yorkshire.

“It will not only give them an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery of North Yorkshire, but will encourage more young people to take up cycling as a great sport and an excellent way of keeping fit.”