By Cherry Allan
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
- Cycle training is a very effective way to encourage more people to cycle. It boosts riding skills and confidence, particularly in imperfect cycling conditions, and also grounds trainees in the rules of the road.
- Widely available cycle training benefits not just young children, but also teenagers as they become more independent and start using busier roads. It can also encourage adults of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to discover cycling for the first time, or help them overcome any fears they have if they decide they’d like to rediscover it later in life.
- By improving trainees’ road skills, cycle training could also affect how quickly teenagers and others learn to drive and enhance their ability to manage the risks both to themselves and to others with whom they share the roads.
- Cycle training could also play a role in tackling offending cycling, in the same way that driver training is used as a remedial response for acts of unlawful driving.
Policy key facts
- In a 2010 survey, 93% of parents whose children had been ‘Bikeability’ trained said that it had a positive impact on their child’s on-road cycling safety; the survey also found that 93% of children felt more confident about cycling in general afterwards.
- Children who have received Bikeability Level 2 training are more confident and significantly better able to perceive a hazard on the road and respond appropriately than untrained pupils of the same age.
- A Cambridge survey found that 13% more trained than untrained pupils reported ‘normal frequent cycling’ to school; and that 37% of untrained pupils cycled on pavements, cycle paths or lanes separated from traffic, but only 10% of trained pupils did the same.
- The benefits of providing cycle training for all ages outweigh the costs by at least 7.4 to 1.
- In 2007-08, English local authorities between them claimed about £1 million from the Government to fund 27,000 Bikeability training places; in 2015-16, they claimed almost £10 million to deliver 259,289 places.
Cycling UK View
- Cycle training in the UK should comply with the National Standard. This represents best practice because it introduces trainees to real-life, on-road conditions, helping to equip adults and children with the skills they need to ride confidently in today’s traffic.
- National government should establish and fund a national target to give every child the opportunity to take part in ‘Bikeability’[i]. Children should be offered training at least to Level 2 free of charge before they leave school/college. The best way to guarantee this is to include Bikeability in the curriculum for all schools.
- Local authorities should support and encourage all schools to organise age-appropriate Bikeability training. They should also offer inclusive programmes to help people with disabilities reach National Standard outcomes, Bikeability courses for adults and special groups, and joint parent/child training classes.
- Providing cycle training is one of the most important ways in which schools and workplaces can directly encourage people to cycle and help realise the many benefits of increased local cycle use.
- The Government should require local authorities and schools to collect data directly from pupils on the impact of Bikeability training, and provide the tools to do this.
- Integrating cycle awareness and cycle training itself into driver instruction and testing would promote better understanding between cyclists and other road users and contribute to road safety objectives. It should also become a compulsory element of the professional training/qualifying process for the drivers of large vehicles (lorries, buses, coaches etc.).
- Disqualified and offending drivers should be offered a course of cycle training to improve their driving behaviour and encourage them to use a cycle for their transport needs during and after their period of disqualification. The police and courts should also have the power to require drivers who have been convicted of offences involving cyclists to participate in such a course.
- The Government should commission and fund comprehensive, long-term research into how quickly Bikeability trainees subsequently learn to drive and how safe they prove to be once qualified. Motor insurers should also consider offering discounts to those who have completed Level 3 Bikeability.
- National government should continue to maintain/support: the National Standard; the training of National Standard Instructors (NSIs); regular reviews; quality assurance processes and registration systems; and an accessible national database of qualified NSIs.
[i] ‘Bikeability’ is the brand name for certain cycle training courses that conform to the National Standard. Some instructors offer National Standard training that is not publicised as ‘Bikeability’.