The Bikeability initiative will see 4,500 Birmingham kids being given cycle safety training as the city looks to shed its reputation as being the UK city with the lowest level of cycling participation. The scheme has been launched to complement the wider aims of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution – the city’s 20-year strategy to make cycling a mainstream form of transport in the city.
Birmingham City Council received £180,000 from the Government for Bikeability during 2014/15 and the initiative was launched at Chad Vale Primary School in Edgbaston by the city’s head of community safety, Councillor James McKay.
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail, McKay said that proper training was a vital means of improving levels of cycling participation.
“If we are to take Birmingham from being the city with the poorest level of cycling participation, we need to ensure that young people are given the opportunity to learn how to ride their bikes safely in all settings – both on and off-road.
“These Bikeability sessions will give children a great opportunity to improve their riding skills, increasing confidence levels that will hopefully then translate into more of them using two wheels as their preferred mode of transport.”
Branded as ‘cycling proficiency for the 21st Century’, there are three levels of Bikeability. Level 1 is purely about controlling a bike. Level 2 has more focus on road skills and is usually tackled by children in Years 5 or 6. Level 3 then deals with more challenging traffic situations and is generally aimed at children of secondary school age.
McKay said that proper training was a vital part of the city’s efforts to embrace cycling in the long-term.
“The Birmingham Cycle Revolution is providing much-needed improvements to cycling routes and infrastructure, but it is just as important to deliver sessions like this if we are to achieve the aims of our programme.”
Birmingham Cycle Revolution has been criticised by Conservative councillor Deirdre Alden who called cycling ‘a discriminatory form of transport’ and said it was only of benefit to ‘young, white men’.
However, £24.3m has been secured and in June the Big Birmingham Bikes initiative was announced. This will see 2,000 bikes being given away with a further 3,000 available for free hire in a bid to improve employment prospects in deprived parts of the city.
The targets for Birmingham Cycle Revolution are for five per cent of all trips in the city to be made by bike by 2023 and 10 per cent by 2033.