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Next on the timetable: double cycling? Calls for cycling proficiency to appear on the school curriculum

82 per cent call for cycling proficiency on the National Curriculum, new survey shows

More than eight out of 10 people feel that cycling proficiency should be a key part of children’s education on the National Curriculum, a survey has found.

The research by Halfords and YouGov shows that 82 per cent of a large sample of nearly 5,000 adults said they would support a requirement on the National Curriculum that all children be taught to cycle competently, confidently and proficiently on the roads. This is a similar standard to that of swimming taught in schools.

Parents of children aged five to 16 reported that fewer than one in five children ever cycle to school, mainly because the roads are too dangerous (42 per cent). And 67 per cent of parents think that the government should do more to promote cycling safety for children.

It isn’t just children who find it unsafe; more than half of respondents (55 per cent) said the Government should give more attention and investment to cycle safety in general.

In terms of elements that would encourage Brits to cycle more, dedicated cycle lanes (40 per cent) was the top choice, with more places to park and lock bikes the next most popular choice (30 per cent).

Chris Boardman MBE, British Cycling Policy Advisor, said: “If you are eight or 80, the bicycle is simply a fantastic tool for getting around.

“More than 60% of people surveyed by British Cycling who don't already cycle regularly said they would if they felt safer. So the government must invest in cycling infrastructure, to take back the streets, prioritising for people who choose not to travel by car, if we are to reap the fantastic benefits that this humble machine can unlock.

“Health, congestion, pollution, more liveable cites...whatever topic you want to choose, the bicycle can be a large part of the answer. In fact it's the only form of mechanised transport that actually contributes to our society the UK gains £590 a year for every extra regular cyclist."

Around 3 per cent of journeys are currently made by bike with campaigners calling for this to increase to 10 per cent by 2025. The survey shows that 32 per cent think this increase would lead to fewer cars and less congestion, 38 per cent say commuters would save money on petrol and transport costs, and 28 per cent say it would increase conflict between cyclists and motorists or pedestrians.

Former Olympic track cycling star Victoria Pendleton said: “Whether it’s to aid your health and fitness, to save money on your commute, for environmental reasons, or to reduce stress, cycling has many benefits.

“However, it’s not just a case of pursuing a hobby and interest without taking full responsibility for cycling safely. Halfords’ new report uncovers just how important cycle safety is to our nation and it’s great to hear that such a key topic is front of everyone’s mind.”

Emma Fox, Commercial Director at Halfords said: “Our state-of-the-nation report on cycling safely shows how vital the nation thinks cycling education is from a young age.

“We know how important is it to start these skill sets young and educate the next generation on cycling safely. Since April last year, more than 20,000 parents and children have attended a Halfords kids’ bike workshop, where children aged 7-11 learn basic bike safety, repair and maintenance.

“Halfords is also bringing bike workshops to primary schools nationwide this June as well as sponsoring ‘Bike to School Week’. These initiatives help fuel a lifelong interest in cycles – as well as sound cycling safety knowledge.”

Not surprisingly the findings of the Halfords survey also found favour with Andy Tucker from BikeRight a company delivering Bikeability training across the country: 

“Of course we support the inclusion of cycle training on the national curriculum. There’s currently a bit of a postcode lottery, as not all Local Councils apply for funding from DfT.  BikeRight! are the largest provider of Bikeability in the country, training nearly 20,000 children every year - we are constantly putting pressure on government through local and national lobbying to increase funding for Bikeability and to secure its future beyond 2016. We think most parents would love their children to cycle to school safely, not only would it save money on travel but their children would be healthier as a result.

"Training needs to be of a high standard though, and be inclusive. BikeRight! are members of The Association of Bikeability Schemes (TABS), set up last year to quality-control Bikeability schemes and to give a combined voice for the industry. TABS members are committed to moving Bikeability forward and any support from others within the bike industry, whether they be manufacturers or retailers, is more than welcome.”


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Skylark | 9 years ago

Very, very strange.

The article is dishing swimming over cycling. Is this just another BS article?

Teach, or rather learn to use your Common Sense and then cycling proficiently will follow.

There should a more general emphasis on a range of PE in schools. Cycling isn't part of it. Emphasis on "range of PE". And more PE rather than the couple of hours it currently seems to be.

oozaveared | 9 years ago

good to hear from others that the instructors are experienced cyclists. My kids did cycling proficiency about 10 years ago now. My eldest was already an avid cyclist and he thought the training would be fun. It was dreadful though and not done by experienced cyclists but by someone that aparrently needed a job and this one was available.

Aparrently his saddle height was dangerous and she moved his saddle down until he could place both feet flat on the ground as if he was riding a hobby horse. Sh had never heard the term "door zone" which I taught him and which is well used and actually pretty obvious even if you have another term for it. These and other bits of nonsense like not cycling further than half a metre from the pavement.

The instructor took what joy possible there was in cycling for a 10 year old and made it a difficult miserable and counterproductive experience.

I am all for training. I do worry though that in making cycle training compulsory for all kids Not just those that want to learn, you'll end up recruiting hoardes of non-cyclists and lower the standard of training. The ones that never want to cycle anyway will have wasted their time and the ones that need good training may well end up with a numpty trainer who spends most of their time trying to get kids that can barely balance to not fall off and ignoring the ones that want to learn some skills because well..they can already ride well enough to not fall off and bother the trainer. It's a terrible idea.

I think schools should say that if you want to ride your bike to school you need to do the training. If you don't ride to school but are interested and want to do it then great.

But compulsory training for all will be so lowest common denominator it will be counterproductive.

Grizzerly | 9 years ago

I'm not sure Dad using his phone as he rides behind his kids is quite what we're looking for, though.

teaboy replied to Grizzerly | 9 years ago
Grizzerly wrote:

I'm not sure Dad using his phone as he rides behind his kids is quite what we're looking for, though.

I disagree. If you make the environment right then it shouldn't be a problem, at least for anyone else.

oozaveared replied to teaboy | 9 years ago
teaboy wrote:
Grizzerly wrote:

I'm not sure Dad using his phone as he rides behind his kids is quite what we're looking for, though.

I disagree. If you make the environment right then it shouldn't be a problem, at least for anyone else.

Not quite getting the dad thing here are we? Look, kids will ride no hands, looking the wrong way. Or they'll ride along the middle of the road pulling a 200 yard wheelie. This is what kids do. Now as a father you might know what they do. (Cos you did it all yourself and have the scars to prove it) You may even admire a decently executed wheelie but your job is to tell them to look where they are going, take their headphones out, pay attention and cycle safely.

Its your job to be the boring fart, to set the standards and be an example. Not because they will necessarily always ride like that, but because they can see that's how it should be done. They don't need any encouragement to be cavalier, that comes naturally.

I joined a club in 1973 aged 12 after my mate at school and I watched a track race round Winton Rec in Bournemouth. We'd been doing ad hoc cycle speedway until then and just hairing about on bikes with cowhorn handlebars and jumping (trying to anyway) the bunkers on Queens Park Golf Course. I have a few miles under my belt, am not a goody two shoes, and like to think I can ride a bit. But I think the issue with mobile phones is that is does distract, it does stop you listening for unseen traffic and (unlike a water bottle say) your reluctance to drop it if you suddenly need both hands or have to brake.

Probably not the end of the world but not best practice eh?

Dad job description

Long term, team players needed, for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment

Candidates must possess excellent communication and organisational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Extensive courier duties also required. Travel expenses not reimbursed.

Terms and conditions
The rest of your life.
Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs £5.
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.
Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
Must have ability to plan and organise social gatherings and parties for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this: You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses!

A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that further education will help them become financially independent.

When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more...

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and
no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.


blablablacksheep20 | 9 years ago

Also did a bike ability style course and tbh one of the things that came out was riding in the primary position and 2 abreast.

Normally we ride single file on main roads but was interesting how riding two abreast does mean it's safer for cyclist the problem is that 70% of drivers hooted us and our group.

Bike ability is great but for many cyclists in reality carrying out their advice will result in more road rage towards themselves.

EarsoftheWolf | 9 years ago

I think cycling education is vital, given the current state of Britain's infrastructure, to make children aware of the risks of cycling on a road. Inconsiderate or ignorant road users (either motorised or not) and badly-designed roads are everywhere and an educated, confident cyclist will be much more likely to negotiate those risks successfully and enjoy a lifetime of cycling.

However, the primary goal still has to be to address infrastructure to make cycling inherently safer in the first place. Improve road designs, invest in well-appointed cycle paths and education will be less necessary.

Alan Tullett | 9 years ago

Well, I qualified as a bikeability instructor earlier this year and was a co-instructor for the first time this week. We had kids with BMXs and just raised the saddle. In fact bike size was the major problem for some kids. I was in the countryside, Suffolk, but there were still plenty enough cars for the Year 5 kids to deal with. To be honest we could have done with more time to practise things more. Not everyone passed. In fact about 75% is the normal rate. I suspect very few of the cyclists here follow the national guidelines properly as I see many cyclists in kit not following the rules I teach e.g. distance from parked cars, side roads, checking behind etc.

Instruction and some improved infrastructure in busy areas are the way forward.

A lot of people claim that safety is an issue but is it really an excuse? Perhaps they say that because they don't want to say, "I'm lazy and out of condition so I prefer to use my car."

OldRidgeback | 9 years ago

My kids did a bikability course which was great. I know the trainer which helped as well. They're both experienced riders but needed proper road training.

In our part of London, bikability courses often focus on scooter training for year 1 and year 2 kids. Several of the kids in the BMX Club had to do this and were less than happy about it. If you ask me, the scooter training is a waste of resources as it's pitched so low in terms of ability/skills.

Our cycling club has been pushing to have sessions with local schools. The coach did a few sessions with one secondary school but we're trying to arrange more. BC is helping with cycling in the community in London but it's like a bottomless pit almost as there's so much more that can be done.

antigee | 9 years ago

My older did daughter did Bikeability at school which was great with good instructors but then the school had a policy of not allowing children to cycle to school because "the nearby main road is too dangerous"

Think it would be reasonable to challenge local authorities to meet a couple of criteria:

Develop for all schools a cycle to school plan identifying what needs to be done to convert it from a plan to actually happening (I think in England individual schools have to drive it the other way? so some Schools bang their heads trying to get it done and others don't bother and parents bang their heads)

Ensure that all children in all communities have access to somewhere safe to cycle. Now that is a big call and by this I mean without being driven to a shared use facility / trail - being able to access quiet roads / shared paths / trails that give meaningful exercise or access local facilities from home.

and a PS and I know a lot of bikeability instructors try hard to balance liability but "the rules" need to make it fully inclusive by allowing kids with BMX's to do it irrespective of brake arrangements etc etc- some of those kids need it most

levermonkey replied to antigee | 9 years ago
antigee wrote:

My older did daughter did Bikeability at school which was great with good instructors but then the school had a policy of not allowing children to cycle to school because "the nearby main road is too dangerous"

Does the school not have a side gate that could have been opened to allow cycling school children to enter the school from a quieter side road?

Is the reason the main road is so dangerous because of so many children being delivered to school by car?

Is it beyond the wit of man and council to calm the traffic on the main road?

Is it beyond the wit of man and council for the roads to be made safer for children to cycle to this or any other school?

The answer to the last two is "No it bloody well isn't!"

[Edited to correct a glaring error - You wouldn't believe English is my first language.]

Sadoldsamurai replied to antigee | 9 years ago
antigee wrote:

PS and I know a lot of bikeability instructors try hard to balance liability but "the rules" need to make it fully inclusive by allowing kids with BMX's to do it irrespective of brake arrangements etc etc- some of those kids need it most

We are BikeAbility trainers, operating both as contractors to a company which has the local contract, and as directly contracted providers of L1 courses to first schools.
We operate in a (very) Rural area. We always take spare bikes to whichever school we are training at.
Quite frankly many of the cheap BMX bikes are far from ideal for road riding, and are difficult for many children to control.

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