Going Going Bike

Sep 092010
Cycling is for everyone

One of the bodies that appears about to be thrown onto the “bonfire of the quangos” is Cycle England. With it would go Bikeability, the peculiarly named body responsible (among other things) for what most people would recognise as the cycle competency test.

Whilst it is tempting to oppose any move that might divert resources away from cycling and to shout loudly against a cut that would reduce accessibility to cycling, it does seem difficult to justify the cost of providing cycle training to 200,000 children every year. The government department that provides the funding for the scheme is the Department for Transport, which has been forced to make over £600 million worth of cuts.

When you look at the competing interests looking to keep hold of their funding (including other cycle related projects) you can see why teaching children to ride a bike may not be a top priority. For instance transport bodies within the DfT include the Civil Aviation Authority, British Transport Police Authority and the Office of Rail Regulation. Clearly Cycling England is important but making certain that the aviation sector is appropriately regulated could easily be viewed as more central to government than cycling.

Learning to ride a bike, even more perhaps than learning to swim, should be a part of everyone’s childhood. It is, in many ways, a core competency. But is it the obligation of the state to provide this training or is the family the best place for these skills to be learnt and refined?

I remember being taught to ride a bicycle by my father and have fond (and painful) memories of the process. I can only imagine that my father remembers the process too as a special moment of fatherhood that he would not want to have missed out on. If Bikeability is cut then let’s hope that learning to cycle returns to the family and, at the same time, get’s parents back onto their bikes. As shown at last weekend’s Sky Ride London cycling is a great family activity and I don’t see any reason why that process should not start with the stabilisers and cycling lessons from parents.

  4 Responses to “Uncertain future for Cycle England and Bikeability”

  1. There’s a bit of a difference between learning to ride a bike i.e balancing on two wheels and keeping the momentum going which the majority of us learn from our parents and cycling proficiency, which is really learning how to ride safely on the roads. On the one hand we have successive Governments telling us that we need to find sustainable forms of transport and hitting us hard in the pocket for the privlege of using a car who then turn round and say teaching children to ride a bike safely on the roads is a waste of money and could be spent on better things. Like allowing NHS Doctors to perform stomach stapling operations because people have got too fat from eating too much and exercising too little perhaps?

    If we are to be encouraged to use our cars less and exercise more then surely the bike is an ideal medium through which to do both in one fell swoop. Anything that helps us to ride more safely on the road should be seen as an investment in our future rather than a waste of money.

  2. You obviously have no idea about the content of the Bikeability course – it has nothing to do with stabilisers and fathers. Do some research before making such sweeping ill informed comment’s.

    At least read this


  3. It is crazy to me that people can go into a cycle shop, buy a bike and take it straight out onto the roads. You can’t do it with a motorbike, car etc. so why is it ok to do it with a bicycle?
    With petrol (and other motoring) costs going up and up more and more people will and have take to the roads on bikes, with no training. Result chaos, injury and death.
    Cycle training should be compulsory for all. Bikeability is a course suitable for children and adults. It starts off the road to ensure everyone can ride safely then the training takes in quiet roads and can then progress to busier roads as required.
    The roads are not dangerous it is the people on them. Don’t scrap Bikeability, make it compulsory for all cyclists.
    But then I would say that, it is how I make my living!

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