After her child's 'Safer Cycling' training was cancelled, Nikki Searle stepped up to volunteer. Twenty one years later and Nikki is still training others how to cycle. Nikki now trains adults and children as a Bikeability instructor, is a peer mentor to other instructors and is part of a group of parents campaigning to create 'Healthier Streets'.
Nikki Searle said…
“I started daily cycling as a student in my teens – it was the quickest, cheapest transport to my department. Subsequently, for the next four decades I have cycled whenever possible: to get to work, to shop, for errands, as my daily outdoor exercise and on holiday.
“I like being outside. I like cycling. It’s fun. The activity is good for me and the environment.
“In 1999 I discovered with disappointment my first child would not receive Cambridgeshire’s usual on road ‘Safer Cycling’ instruction at her junior school as the retired police officer who organised the training had fallen ill. I found myself rallying 13 other like-minded parents to join me as volunteer cycling instructors, training about 90 pupils each summer. This training scheme aimed to give children skills to make independent decisions so they could cycle to secondary school.
“After five years of voluntarily teaching primary school kids the county’s Road Safety Team approached me to be trained as a part-time Adult Cycling Trainer.
I loved it. I found I could teach adult first-timers; Rusty Riders; cyclists lacking confidence in commuter traffic; helping cyclists to find their optimum routes; children with special needs; parents wanting to know how best to ride and shepherd their families
“I loved it. I found I could teach adult first-timers; Rusty Riders; cyclists lacking confidence in commuter traffic; helping cyclists to find their optimum routes; children with special needs; parents wanting to know how best to ride and shepherd their families.
“I was presented with a whole raft of challenges both in Cambridge city centre and surrounding villages. It was a rewarding experience as so many clients felt liberated and contacted me for further sessions.
“As the 2008 financial crash caused my redundancy as a council trainer, I realised I wanted to continue instructing so I sought employment with the local independent provider, Outspoken Training.
“They helped me brush up my Bikeability qualifications and stretched me further. The Bikeability strap line of ‘More cyclists, more safely, more often’ chimes with me.
“Consequently for the last nine years I have delivered level 1, 2 and 3 in schools; for 1:1 clients, both children and adults; for HGV and van drivers on Safe Urban Driver courses where participants experience cycling in the city, and for corporate firms.
“My desire to get more people to push pedals for pleasure has also involved me in planning family cycle circuits for community events.
I am proud to be in the core team that has raised funds for a Trishaw (a trike for two passengers). I now train its riders to take isolated and less mobile passengers for rides around our villages to get some wind in their hair
“I am proud to be in the core team that has raised funds for a Trishaw (a trike for two passengers). I now train its riders to take isolated and less mobile passengers for rides around our villages to get some wind in their hair.
“In addition, I have researched and campaigned with a group of cycling parents to create ‘Healthier Streets’ – our aim is to encourage families to cycle the daily school commute.
“The current increase in cycling is a positive consequence of this ghastly Covid-19 epidemic which may help us achieve our goal.
Cycling is a way of life for me. I hope I have helped others to discover its great benefits.”
Nikki was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Kieron McNab who said:
“Nikki is a positive role model, using her bicycle as her main form of everyday transport to travel around her village and into Cambridge. Recognising the benefits cycling has on health and wellbeing as well as being a really fun activity, led Nikki to become a cycle instructor. For 21 years, she has worked tirelessly to enthuse thousands of children to cycle around Cambridge by equipping them with the skills and confidence to ride more often.
“Nikki’s wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm and energy has led to her teaching children to ride for the first time as well as boosting children’s knowledge and understanding enabling them to make more journeys on-road by bicycle.
“Nikki’s reputation as a high-quality, inspirational and knowledgeable cycle instructor who regularly goes above and beyond to help others cycle, led to her being selected to demonstrate Bikeability training to a group of cycle training providers across Europe who came to the UK as part of the Erasmus Cycle Training Project this year.
“Such is Nikki’s humility; she recognises that she needs to work with others to help inspire even more people to cycle. To achieve this, Nikki has taken on the added responsibility of being a Peer Mentor to support new and existing local instructors to deliver the best training and impact they can within cycle training sessions. In total, she has worked with 18 instructors to help them continuously develop their instructing which played a huge role in Cambridgeshire receiving a 5 out of 5 quality assurance score from the Bikeability External Quality Assurance assessment.
“Nikki doesn’t solely work with children and is one of the biggest deliverers of adult cycle skills for individuals and businesses outside of London. She began training adults 16 years ago as part of Cambridgeshire County Council’s adult cycle training programme and has continued this by delivering Cycle Skills training for Outspoken Training.
Nikki embodies everything you would wish for from a resident in your community. She is positive about life and the impact cycling can have on improving community living
“Nikki embodies everything you would wish for from a resident in your community. She is positive about life and the impact cycling can have on improving community living, gives back lots of time, effort and enthusiasm to residents through various cycling projects and genuinely wants to make other peoples’ lives better by enabling them to cycle. I can’t think of a more inspirational, everyday cyclist and Nikki is most certainly a hero of the community!"