Over three million children have completed Bikeability since the cycle training scheme launched in 2007. Now the government has pledged £13 million for the scheme to continue for another year.
The funding will give children from 50% of England’s primary schools access to the programme.
Around 400,000 children completed the scheme in the year up to April 2019, which includes training at three levels based on a child’s age and experience.
The government said its long term aim was for cycling and walking to become the natural choices for shorter journeys, or as part of longer journeys. Advocates are likely to see this latest funding pledge as only a modest move towards fulfilling that ambition. It seems the government itself agrees – the DfT recently admitted that the current funding per head in England must double in order for it to hit its own 2025 cycling target.
Commenting on the continuation of funds for Bikeability, Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Cycling and walking are great forms of exercise, helping to reduce child obesity, and boosting people’s physical and mental health.
“I am delighted to see Bikeability has now supported three million children to take to their bikes safely and confidently, kick-starting a lifetime of cycling for them. I hope that the £13 million investment announced today will help them continue to train millions more young cyclists over the coming years.”
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, said: “The benefits of cycling to school go far beyond providing an active and fun way for children to get to school. Cycling cuts carbon emissions and traffic levels outside of schools by taking cars off the road.
“The Government’s Bikeability scheme gives young people the knowledge and confidence they need to cycle safely, providing peace of mind to parents, pupils and schools and I’m so pleased that we’re able to invest this new money in the programme – it’s an investment in our future.”
Jo Churchill, Public Health Minister, said: “The extension of this scheme is a vital step in encouraging more children to be active. Physical activity has so many health benefits for our children – it keeps them fit and healthy, strengthens muscles and bones, increases self-esteem, and improves concentration and learning in school.
“As part of our prevention green paper, we set out our ambition to promote more active travel. Building activity into the school run is one of the many ways to do this and the Bikeability scheme will help more children stay active every day. What’s more, its fun!”
Paul Robison, Chief Executive Officer of the Bikeability Trust, said: “We are delighted that DfT funding for Bikeability in 2020/21 has been confirmed. High-quality cycle training enables confident and enjoyable cycling, raises awareness of skilful cycling among all road users, and contributes to better transport, health and wellbeing.
“Children love Bikeability and parents value the training their children receive. Independent research confirms Bikeability helps children cycle more safely, more often.”
Dr Karen Exley, Group Leader of Air Pollution at Public Health England, said: “Cycling is a great way of cutting congestion by encouraging people to get out of their cars on short journeys such as the school run.
“It will help to reduce idling outside schools, which will improve air quality where children congregate, and increase the amount of exercise young people take.”