Bikeability Scotland has now been launched, bringing the cycle proficiency training north of the border.
The launch means that for the first time there is a common brand for cycle training in England, Wales and Scotland. Bikeability was launched in England and Wales in 2007, and together with Bikeability Scotland adheres to the UK national standard for cycle training. Bikeability Scotland is part funded by the Bike Hub levy.
The scheme is a three level cycle training programme designed to five children the road skills to travel independently to school on their bike. More comprehensive than the often playground-based cycling proficiency of old, Bikeability Scotland shows children how to plan the safest route along quiet roads and cycle paths, teaching them how to negotiate traffic and junctions.
Scottish cycling legend Graeme 'the Flying Scotsman' Obree launched the training scheme with pupils from Longstone Primary School in Edinburgh.
Obree said: “Bikeability Scotland is a great way to make sure children can cycle safely. The training is really comprehensive. As a parent I think this is so important. Having the confidence to let your kids out on their bikes gives them so much more independence, which is something children seem to have less and less of these days. It is also a great way to encourage exercise which is so important to the physical development of children – but above all cycling is fun.”
Bikeability Scotland training materials are being made available nationwide from today, and the scheme is administered by Cycling Scotland, the national organisation for getting more people on their bikes.
Chief exec Ian Aitken commented: “Bikeability Scotland is a hugely important factor in creating a generation of cyclists that have the confidence to choose cycling as their main mode of travel for short journeys. The biggest barrier stopping more people from getting out on their bikes is a lack of confidence to cycle on the road. Cycle training is the best way to address this, and I think it is important to teach these skills at a young age, when children are starting to use their bikes to visit friends or cycle to school.”
Olympic cycling legend Chris Hoy also lent his support to the launch: "The new Bikeability Scotland cycle training is a fantastic way to give kids the skills and confidence they need to use their bikes to get to school, and just to get around. I went everywhere on my bike as a kid, and developing road sense is really important. The new three level scheme includes on-road training which is vital for making sure kids are properly prepared for riding their bikes, and hopefully they can continue these skills into adulthood too."
Cycling Scotland is calling on people from across Scotland to get involved to help ensure as many children as possible get access to Bikeability Scotland. Cycle training is managed locally by road safety officers and active school co-ordinators, with the training often delivered in schools by trained parent volunteers. On-road training is already happening in parts of Scotland and a recruitment drive is currently on to get additional volunteers to help roll-out the scheme in more areas.
Ian Aitken added: “To give children the best preparation to be confident cyclists, it’s important that they receive all three levels of Bikeability Scotland, and we want to see all children in Scotland get the opportunity to do this. This means more delivery to more children, so we are calling for additional volunteers to help support cycle training locally across Scotland. We can provide all the necessary training and support, all we need is committed and enthusiastic people that want to help deliver something that really makes a difference in their local community.”
Find out more at www.cyclingscotland.org