Bikeability Scotland, the national cycle training programme managed by Cycling Scotland, supports children’s health and wellbeing, brings communities and schools closer together and helps to encourage a future generation to travel by bike.
Schools consistently report on the increased confidence of students taking part, as they learn to negotiate road cycling safely with support from Bikeability Scotland trainers and assistants. And many schools have used cycling to forge new ties with parents, local businesses and the community, creating cycling networks that go far beyond the school gate.
The Bikeability Scotland programme, funded by Transport Scotland, saw more than 37,000 pupils take part in on-road cycle training and safety classes each year – supported by a network of more than 2,000 trainers and assistants. It comprises of three main levels:
• Level 1 – fun sessions, delivered in an off-road, traffic-free setting, designed to develop basic bike control skills. Typically delivered in P5.
• Level 2 – the core of the programme, with a focus on making short journeys on quieter roads, using appropriate signalling and observation. Typically delivered in P6-7.
• Level 3 – planning a journey and use of more challenging routes, designed to consolidate skills and empower trainees. This is typically delivered after Level two.
From an evaluation of training, the top five reasons to do Bikeability Scotland are:
* Fun –feedback is overwhelmingly positive, children really enjoy Bikeability Scotland
* Confidence – surveys found that 65% of children were more confident cycling and 82% of parents were more in favour of letting their children cycle after completing training.
* Safety – after doing on-road training, children score much higher on hazard perception and appropriate response tests.
* Healthy habits – more children choose to cycle to school, and prefer to cycle to local places. 45% of pupils say they cycle more frequently after Bikeability Scotland training.
* Life skill – once learnt, you never forget how to ride a bike. It’s a great opportunity for children to meet new friends at all stages of life.
One school that has signed up to Bikeability Scotland for a number of years is Corpus Christi Primary School in Glasgow. Principal teacher, Vicky Kytzia, said:
“Our school has students from many different backgrounds and abilities, and to see the increase in their confidence through Bikeability Scotland is a great result.
“The buzz that is created around the bike sessions spills out to the parents and staff, with them volunteering, or taking up cycling themselves. We have taught non-cyclists how to cycle and we also encourage our senior students to cycle to the local high school when we go for orientation sessions.
“There is a lot of good cycling infrastructure around the school and leading into the city centre. Our Bikeability Scotland activity has led to new experiences and relationships for the school and pupils. We are planning to meet up with Bikeability Scotland students from another school for a cycle on the canal next term.”
Bikeability Scotland, for children aged between 8 and 12, aligns with Curriculum for Excellence, helping students to develop the four capacities and demonstrate that they are:
Responsible Citizens – understand the consequences of their behaviour and actions, making appropriate decisions while cycling
Effective Contributors – use a range of social skills both in and out of school as they participate in and advocate the benefits of cycling safely
Confident Individuals – willingly participate in sporting or physical activity opportunities, having the confidence to enjoy cycling out of school hours
Successful Learners – develop critical thinking skills through making choices about routes, speeds and environments
It also helps deliver on the Scottish Parliament’s motion that, ‘every schoolchild should have the opportunity to benefit from cycle training’. Cycling Scotland offers support to all local authorities to deliver Bikeability Scotland, providing the following free of charge:
• Bikeability Scotland training resources
• Training courses to become a Bikeability Scotland instructor
• Advice, guidance and promotional material, including Parent Guides, School Gate Banners and Classroom Packs.
Cycling Scotland can provide a financial support package of up to £20,000 to local authorities committed to increasing delivery of Level 2 on-road training. This funding can also help tackle physical or logistical barriers to children participating, including bike provision.
David Collins, Bikeability officer, Cycling Scotland said:
”We work closely with local authorities to deliver Bikeability Scotland training across Scotland and we encourage all schools to take advantage of the support available. Every child should have the opportunity to benefit from cycle training and be encouraged to continue the habit into adulthood.
The first step for any school to develop a cycling culture is to ensure Bikeability Scotland training is offered to every child.”
Schools may also wish to become a Cycle Friendly Primary School and gain recognition for encouraging cycling as well as access to resources including lesson plans.
For more information about Bikeability Scotland, visit: www.cycling.scot/bikeability-scotland.