Ever heard of Bikeability? Or are you aware of it but not exactly sure how it works? Bikeability is today’s cycle training programme. It’s like cycling proficiency, but better! It’s the UK’s government cycle education programme. It has been designed to give more children the skills and confidence to ride more safely, more often.
Bikeability is a progressive programme in which trainees first master cycle handling skills in motor traffic-free environments (Level 1), then develop skills and confidence to cycle on local roads and simple junctions (Level 2), before tackling often busier, multi-lane roads and complex junctions (Level 3). Additional ‘Bikeability Plus modules aim to increase the take up of Bikeability training in schools and its impact on children’s cycling.
Halfords is now the official cycling retail partner for Bikeability, which will help around 25,000 children participate in the programme.
To help you get a better understanding of what it is and why your child should do Bikeability, we’ve asked a Bikeability instructor from Two Wheels Tuition, Phil Edwards, to share his wisdom on this fantastic scheme and his experiences teaching it:
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing the children who are less confident at the start flourish into competent cyclists by the end of the course brings us a lot of joy. We all put in a tremendous effort to motivate and transform those who say they “can’t do this” into “I CAN do this” by the end of the week.
You see, children revel in receiving their certificate and badge so I’d say awarding them with these accolades and seeing their smiling faces at the end of the course is undoubtedly the best part.
What is your best memory of being a trainer/ the children you have trained?
To pinpoint one memory is very hard for me as I’ve experienced plenty of humorous moments. However, the thank you cards are probably the most rewarding as you know that you’ve truly helped someone.
My team and I also share a lot of laughs and friendly banter with the kids. So to see that they are smiling and having a good time tells us we are doing a top job!
How long have you been a trainer? If you have been in your role for a long time, how has it changed over the years?
I’m just about to start my sixth year. I don’t think the fundamentals have changed, although, I feel there’s a more heightened sense of health and safety related issues nowadays with people being more aware of the dangers and obstacles we all face on the road on a daily basis. This can be anything from adjusting the way your child approaches a ride in wet conditions, to staying alert for people who use their phones while driving.
What training did you do to work in the role?
Initially a four-day course. It’s far more comprehensive than you’ll probably imagine. I’m required to undertake CPD (continual personal development) with a variety of opportunities available to us.
For starters, I take an annual first aid refresher course and a full one day course every three years. I’m assessed on our performance annually and participate, when possible in an annual conference where a variety of training modules are available.
My colleagues and I are all DBS checked, undertake annual Safeguarding Training and always provide Public Liability Insurance.
Where are you based/ which areas do you cover?
Most of my work is in Torbay, Devon although I also provide courses in and around Newton Abbot. Overall, I work with around 30 schools and roughly 300 children across Years 5 to 7 in the course of each year. However, we do also offer Holiday Clubs too, which usually attracts around 100 children over 12 months.
What do you think kids get from completing the courses?
The realisation that there’s more to riding a bike than they first thought. Riding is one thing but doing it well and safely is likely to be something quite different altogether! In the end, I think all the children leave with a healthy dose of extra confidence and greater awareness.
Why do you think Bikeability training is so important?
Everyone who uses the road network benefits from training. It obviously helps all cyclists, who for many reasons are likely to be more vulnerable, but also all other road users will be helped by well-trained cyclists. If we could all spend a day in each other’s shoes, everyone would have a greater understanding of how to work better together.
How does Bikeability work? (In terms of levels and cost)
In Torbay, our local council and cycling officer are very proactive in getting all schools to engage and the vast majority do so. Courses are free within school thanks to funding from the department of transport.
Bikeability consists of three levels. The first takes place in the school playground, acting as an assessment and confidence builder before we head out into quiet local roads around the school for levels two and three. Most Bikeability courses combine Levels 1 and 2 and are delivered to children in school years 5 and 6 in England, where more than half of all primary schools participate in the programme. Parents should encourage their children to practice cycling after Bikeability to ensure the skills and confidence they have gained are not lost.
Halfords is offering a free bike check to all participants. This 32 point check will spot any problem areas on a child’s bike, to help get children fully course ready. And don’t forget you can also check out a range of Bikeability bikes and cycling accessories which have been handpicked by Bikeability and Halfords as being perfect for Bikeability, with all course participants enjoying a 10% discount on bikes and cycling accessories.
To find out when and where your nearest Bikeability course is taking place, visit here. Or for some top parenting tips on getting your child into cycling, you might find our previous blog useful: ‘Cycling to school – 6 tips to make it safer‘.