Olympic champion Chris Boardman MBE visited BikeRight!'s Liverpool branch last month to see first-hand how the company is delivering Bikeability to children in the area.
Merseyside is a Bikeability hot-spot. More than 70 per cent of primary school age children are receiving Level 2 training through the on-road cycle training programme, against a national average of 40 per cent.
There's further good news for the region too, with the announcement that the region has been granted £460,000 from the Department for Transport to deliver cycle training in schools for 2013/14 – the highest amount in the country. That funding translates into 11,500 more Merseyside school students receiving Bikeability training, as well well building on its success over the past year of delivering training to 296 young people with special needs, at 23 different schools.
Level 3 Bikeability training has been delivered to over 1,000 secondary age students over the past year – more than anywhere else in the country.
BikeRight! MD Liz Clarke said: “Merseyside is leading the way in training the next generation of cyclists. Once children become experienced road users, the impact continues into adulthood on their health and prospects for getting to work or education. Every child deserves to have access to this important lifetime skill.”
After spending time with the BikeRight! team at their office and workshop in Kirkdale, Boardman visited Rice Lane Junior School to meet pupils, staff and Bikeability trainers and learn more about the work in creating the next generation of cycle-ready young people.
Boardman commented: “It’s really important that young people are given cycling training as early as possible, so it’s wonderful to see Liverpool schools achieving such great things through the Bikeability programme.
“It was really good to meet local pupils and find out how much enthusiasm they have for the sport. Cycling is a brilliant way of getting about, a fantastic form of exercise and a lot of fun, and the fact that record numbers of youngsters are now becoming cycling proficient bodes well for the future.”
The Olympian saw a Bikeability course - managed by the Merseyside Transport Partnership and delivered by BikeRight! - in action, with Rice Lane pupils learning road riding skills. He also added his support to a national campaign for cycle training to be included in the primary school curriculum, and to be seen as a life skill equivalent to swimming.
Headteacher at Rice Lane Junior School, Margaret Rowlands, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Chris to our school so we could show him the progress our pupils are making in cycling.
“We have been involved with the Bikeability scheme for over three years. It is very popular with the children and parents and ensures the children are confident cyclists who are aware of road safety.We feel it’s a really important addition to our curriculum.”