Evidence gathered for a new report suggests that training has a huge part to play in encouraging new cyclists to get on the road.
BikeBiz has been given first access to the report, commissioned by national cycle training organisation BikeRight!, which shows that training cautious cyclists – or people who don’t cycle – in their thousands has a guaranteed impact on modal shift.
The report, titled Freewheeling Futures, was based on surveys conducted with around 300 adults who have received cycle training as part of BikeRight!’s Freewheeling programme between 2010 and 2015 in Manchester.
Key findings include:
- The training had encouraged 70% of trainees to cycle more often
- There was a 200% increase in people using their bicycles as their regular travel to work mode. There was also a 16% reduction in car use
- Over 65% felt safer on the road, more competent and more confident when cycling on the roads.
“Major cycling infrastructure programmes are happening, especially in London, but development is sporadic elsewhere and in lots of areas cycle paths and lanes are either absent or so poorly designed they offer little or no help to cyclists," said Liz Clarke, BikeRight! MD. "That’s why training is so important, not just for cyclists but drivers too. It’s going to be decades before towns and cities across the UK get anything approaching the quality of Dutch-style cycling paths so we need to train people for what’s currently out there.
"And of course many adults can’t ride a bike, over a tenth of our trainees start with a learn to ride lesson, before progressing to other courses, so Freewheeling and our other services such as Bikeability are literally creating a new generation of bike riders”.
Prior to cycle training, the majority (70%) of respondents had a basic or low level of cycling experience, including 13% complete beginners. After the training over 50% described increased competence to average or advanced.
Positive economic contribution
The survey also touched on the economic contribution of training. It found that across Manchester alone the scheme generated up to 232 additional people cycling to work, which would justify £2,100,000 expenditure on cycling infrastructure and facilities, with health, congestion and pollution savings benefits to Greater Manchester of up to £275,000.
On a broader scale similar training schemes run in the West Midlands, Merseyside and Newcastle-upon-Tyne could generate 960 additional people cycling to work, justifying £8.7million expenditure on cycling infrastructure, facilities and promotional activity, it said.
Estimating the average distances and frequency of cycling across the whole project indicates that this increase of people commuting by bike across the four areas has saved £1.14million collectively.
The firm said cycle training "could be the secret ingredient to get more people in the saddle. Combined with better infrastructure and strong promotional programmes, training new cyclists could see Britain genuinely become a nation of confident, safe and enthusiastic lovers of life on a bike."
There’s a link to the report here: http://www.bikeright.co.uk/for_more/news_and_views/bikeright_news/freewheeling_futures/