East Renfrewshire school pupils are among the first to take mountain biking as part of their PE lessons – one feature of Scotland’s investment in the future of cycling.
£400,000 will be spent across seven Scottish councils to encourage cycling among children and young people. One school in the affected areas – Barrhead High School – has seen more than 500 pupils begin a course in practical cycling skills and next term will include lessons in bike maintenance.
The investment is part of the Scottish Government’s three-year Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) programme, launched in 2008. The £15m scheme – launched in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) – aims to cut car use and encourage the nation’s population to use active ans sustainable modes of transport.
The largest single portion of the fund – £5 million – is dedicated to delivering innovative cycling initiatives and improved infrastructure.
Seven further local authorities – Dundee, Glasgow’s East End, Falkirk, Dumfries, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and Orkney – have additional projects running aiming to up activity levels and cut Co2 levels.
Ultimately, the work of SCSP is hoped to provide best practice examples that can then be implemented across Scotland in order for the country to convert ten per cent of journeys to bike by 2020 (as set out in the Scottish Government’s draft Cycling Action Plan for Scotland – CAPS).
“Our Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme is developing innovative transport initiatives to encourage more Scots out of their cars and on to sustainable forms of transport,” said transport minister Stewart Stevenson. “These schools initiatives have a very important part to play, getting more children and teenagers to think about their travel habits and see for themselves how getting on their bike more often can help improve their health and be kinder to the environment.”
Another project benefiting from the investment is Go Barrhead – East Renfrewshire Council’s SCSP funded brand – which sees cycling introduced to pre-school children with specialist balance bikes at local nurseries. Without pedals, the bikes encourage young children to learn to balance without the distraction of pedalling.
Councillor Eddie Phillips, East Renfrewshire Council’s environment convener said: “By building cycling into the PE curriculum at Barrhead High and by taking forward practical lessons across the high school’s feeder primaries, which include on-road cycling training for children in primary six, we are supporting them in doing just that.”