BikeAbility cycle training budget set at £18 million

The Government has announced that its effort to see all children in England offered cycle training will be backed up by £18 million in cash, to be managed by the BikeAbility Trust charity.

The figure is larger than previously and according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will “kick-start our (Government’s) plans to provide Bikeability training to all children by 2025.” The Conservative Party had previously pledged cycle training for all children in England.

The funding delivers on-road cycle training for children, but is also expected to be extended to adults who wish to grow their on the road confidence. These instructors delivered sessions will apparently deliver rides ensure riders are ready to tackle popular cycle to school or commuter routes.

At different levels, children learn to:

  • Develop early cycle handling and awareness skills (Bikeability Balance)
  • Master pedalling (Bikeability Learn to Ride)
  • Prepare for on-road cycling (Level 1)
  • Cycle on single-lane roads and simple junctions (Level 2)
  • Handle busier streets, complex junctions and roundabouts (Level 3)

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Cycling is a fun and healthy way for pupils to get to school, and we want as many as possible to make it their choice of transport. With social distancing still a necessity, the more people who walk or cycle, the more we can ease pressure on public transport as people return to normal life.

“But we know not all children, or parents, feel bike-confident. Today’s funding will kick-start our plans to provide Bikeability training to all children by 2025, giving the next generation of cyclists a life-skill and the confidence they need to choose a more active way to travel.”

Today’s release is delivered alongside plenty of encouraging words about the benefits of physical activity and choosing active travel where possible, but is light on detail about safe cycling conditions, which many cycling advocates say has to be the Government’s priority if they are to stimulate cycle use for schools, workplaces and leisure. Previously a study of BikeAbility’s lasting effect on the propensity to cycle once the training has been completed found little evidence of a continuation.  This is believed to be largely in part down to the lack of safe cycling infrastructure linking homes to town centres and facilities.

Emily Cherry, Executive Director, Bikeability Trust said: “The commitment of Government to fund Bikeability in this next year is hugely welcomed as we seek to ensure that every child can access cycling as a life skill by 2025. This record investment will allow us to reach more children and, importantly, their families too, as a result of additional funding for our Family module.

“Personally, I know the value of Bikeability cycle training for both children and their parents, having taken part in family training with my teacher husband and our children. Now, they cycle to school daily using the skills they learned from the training and as a family, we continue to enjoy cycling together. Bikeability is the first step to ensure that adults and children alike have the confidence and competence to cycle.”