As the nights draw in and growing youngsters start biking to and from school with the new school term under way, being safe and confident on a bike couldn’t be more important – or timely, writes Coun John Cottee, chairman of the communities and places committee at Nottinghamshire County Council.
With Via East Midlands, which manages highways services on the county council’s behalf, the Bikeability scheme provides vital cycle safety skills for young people as part of the council’s wider road safety education remit.
To help showcase this valuable initiative, 22 Bikeability-trained youngsters, rode the first mile of the Tour of Britain race last month.
Last year the scheme delivered around 5,800 places across all age groups and abilities, as well as a range of road safety education in schools across all age ranges.
Bikeability is normally delivered through schools, is usually free and carried out by fully trained and accredited cycle instructors.
At a school I visited recently, pupils were taking part in level two training.
Instruction included passing parked vehicles, understanding road positioning and manoeuvres when turning left and right, hazard awareness and having the confidence to make decisions independently.
Partner agencies also host ‘learn to ride’ sessions through the Bikeability team, providing bicycles, helmets, balance bikes and organising games to help pupils build up their confidence and learn safety tips.
Via East Midlands’ road safety team gives advice in schools and to parents on teaching children to ride safely, and to ensure that bikes are properly adjusted for height and comfort.
Children between the age of 11 and 16 account for more than a quarter of serious and fatal cycle injuries, which is why this council is investing in cycle training to keep children safe on the county’s roads.