More than eight out of 10 people feel that cycling proficiency should be a key part of children’s education on the National Curriculum, a survey has found.
The research by Halfords and YouGov shows that 82 per cent of a large sample of nearly 5,000 adults said they would support a requirement on the National Curriculum that all children be taught to cycle competently, confidently and proficiently on the roads. This is a similar standard to that of swimming taught in schools.
Parents of children aged five to 16 reported that fewer than one in five children ever cycle to school, mainly because the roads are too dangerous (42 per cent). And 67 per cent of parents think that the government should do more to promote cycling safety for children.
It isn’t just children who find it unsafe; more than half of respondents (55 per cent) said the Government should give more attention and investment to cycle safety in general.
In terms of elements that would encourage Brits to cycle more, dedicated cycle lanes (40 per cent) was the top choice, with more places to park and lock bikes the next most popular choice (30 per cent).
Chris Boardman MBE, British Cycling Policy Advisor, said: “If you are eight or 80, the bicycle is simply a fantastic tool for getting around.
“More than 60% of people surveyed by British Cycling who don't already cycle regularly said they would if they felt safer. So the government must invest in cycling infrastructure, to take back the streets, prioritising for people who choose not to travel by car, if we are to reap the fantastic benefits that this humble machine can unlock.
“Health, congestion, pollution, more liveable cites...whatever topic you want to choose, the bicycle can be a large part of the answer. In fact it's the only form of mechanised transport that actually contributes to our society the UK gains £590 a year for every extra regular cyclist."
Around 3 per cent of journeys are currently made by bike with campaigners calling for this to increase to 10 per cent by 2025. The survey shows that 32 per cent think this increase would lead to fewer cars and less congestion, 38 per cent say commuters would save money on petrol and transport costs, and 28 per cent say it would increase conflict between cyclists and motorists or pedestrians.
Former Olympic track cycling star Victoria Pendleton said: “Whether it’s to aid your health and fitness, to save money on your commute, for environmental reasons, or to reduce stress, cycling has many benefits.
“However, it’s not just a case of pursuing a hobby and interest without taking full responsibility for cycling safely. Halfords’ new report uncovers just how important cycle safety is to our nation and it’s great to hear that such a key topic is front of everyone’s mind.”
Emma Fox, Commercial Director at Halfords said: “Our state-of-the-nation report on cycling safely shows how vital the nation thinks cycling education is from a young age.
“We know how important is it to start these skill sets young and educate the next generation on cycling safely. Since April last year, more than 20,000 parents and children have attended a Halfords kids’ bike workshop, where children aged 7-11 learn basic bike safety, repair and maintenance.
“Halfords is also bringing bike workshops to primary schools nationwide this June as well as sponsoring ‘Bike to School Week’. These initiatives help fuel a lifelong interest in cycles – as well as sound cycling safety knowledge.”
Not surprisingly the findings of the Halfords survey also found favour with Andy Tucker from BikeRight a company delivering Bikeability training across the country:
“Of course we support the inclusion of cycle training on the national curriculum. There’s currently a bit of a postcode lottery, as not all Local Councils apply for funding from DfT. BikeRight! are the largest provider of Bikeability in the country, training nearly 20,000 children every year - we are constantly putting pressure on government through local and national lobbying to increase funding for Bikeability and to secure its future beyond 2016. We think most parents would love their children to cycle to school safely, not only would it save money on travel but their children would be healthier as a result.
"Training needs to be of a high standard though, and be inclusive. BikeRight! are members of The Association of Bikeability Schemes (TABS), set up last year to quality-control Bikeability schemes and to give a combined voice for the industry. TABS members are committed to moving Bikeability forward and any support from others within the bike industry, whether they be manufacturers or retailers, is more than welcome.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.