Cycling proficiency body aims to teach 500,000 to ride safely by 2012

Former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis has backed a scheme from Cycling England that will see cycling proficiency body Bikeability employ over 1,000 cycling instructors to teach half a million children to ride a bike safely by 2012.

Ms Lewis, who won gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and has three children herself, regularly lends her support to Bikeability and told the BBC News website that she viewed cycling as “a key life skill.”

She added that she believed it was "important that we give children the chance to learn how to cycle safely and independently. My kids love cycling outside in the fresh air, and I love seeing the sense of independence it gives them, but it's really important to make sure they get the right training from day one."

Paul Robinson, training manager at Bikeability England, told the BBC that "Bikeability is quite unlike the old cycling proficiency scheme and instead offers real on the road training. That's why we want parents not only to welcome Bikeability training for their own children but to actively become part of its delivery."

He went on to say that instructors – who can benefit from a raining bursary, and income of up to £20,000 afterwards – “are at the frontline of our nationwide campaign to get 500,000 children Bikeability trained by 2012.”

More information on Bikeability can be found on the scheme’s website, at www.bikeability.org.uk.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.