Cycling UK has called on the Government to increase funding for cycle training, known as Bikeability, so that all Year 6 students in England can have the opportunity “to develop a lifelong skill that would be good for their health, and also the environment”.
The appeal comes on the back of a Government announcement made today, 11th October, that it would invest £13 million into Bikeability for the following year so approximately 50% of English primary schools can access the training.
James Scott, Cycling UK’s director of behaviour change, said: “Bikeability is a great scheme, helping thousands of children to learn to cycle with confidence, but with austerity meant to be officially over, now would have been the time to turn on the funding taps so every child in England can learn how to cycle, not just 50% of them.
“Investing just £18 in each Year 6 student would give every young person the opportunity to develop a lifelong skill that would be good for their health, and also the environment.”
The charity says it costs £18.33 per head for a pupil to reach Bikeability Level 2, which equips pupils with the skills to negotiate quiet single carriage roads and simple junctions. If the Government doubled the level of funding, every single one of the 1,364,179 10 to 11-year-olds would have the opportunity to learn how to cycle with more confidence, Cycling UK says.
Bikeability training is offered at three levels, based on a child’s age and experience. Skills taught start with basic bike-handling in a controlled traffic-free environment, and build so that children can manage a variety of traffic conditions on different types of roads.
With only 3% of 11 to 16-year-olds regularly cycling to school, the Government set out its ambition for ‘A world in which a 12-year-old can cycle, and walk, safely’ in its ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Safety Review’.
Cycling UK says making Bikeability available to all Year 6 students is an important step to achieving the Government’s vision. The charity, however, warns further investment is necessary to provide the next generation of cyclists with the skills to ride safely on busier roads and at roundabouts, which is provided by Bikeability Level 3.
Chris Bennett, head of behaviour change and engagement at Sustrans, has welcomed the Government’s announcement: “Cycle training is a great way to boost children’s confidence to cycle and so we very much welcome the Government’s investment in Bikeability programme.
“This funding is an important step to giving more children the opportunity to travel in a way that is good for their health and wellbeing, and for the environment around them. We’d now like the Government to build on this and prioritise investment in safe routes that would make walking and cycling to school safer and more accessible for every child in the UK.”