The cycling proficiency scheme, still in operation north of the border more than half a century after its launch in 1958, is to be rebranded as Bikeability Scotland from today. As with the Bikeability scheme already in operation in England and Wales, the initiative will see schoolchildren taught to ride safely on the road.
While Cycling England may have been rather unceremoniously tossed onto the coalition government’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’ – the body is due to close for good this month – its counterpart in Scotland, which is supported by the Scottish Executive, is very much alive and well.
According to a report in The Herald, the changes being introduced by Cycling Scotland are designed to increase the proportion of pupils who receive cycle training out on the road from the present level of 27% to 40% by 2016.
It is hoped that in turn that will encourage more children to undertake their journeys to school by bike. In the country as a whole, 1.2% of children currently do so, although this rises to 3.2% among those who are in their final three years of primary school.
However, there are big regional differences. In Grampian, some 98% of pupils currently receive on-the-road training. That is very much the exception, but The Herald reports that in some areas, efforts to get schoolkids onto their bikes are meeting with success.
In East Dunbartonshire, for example, up to one in five children at some primary schools travel in on their bikes, and levels are also higher than average in Edinburgh, Highland, Moray, and the Western Isles.
Speaking of the rebranding, Cycling Scotland Chief Executive Ian Aitken said: “Cycling round playgrounds doesn’t properly prepare children for riding on the road. You wouldn’t ask car drivers to drive round and round a car park then say, ‘do you want to go on the road network now?’.”
A spokesperson for Cycling Scotland said: “Our Cycling Action Plan for Scotland outlines the vision that cycling will amount for 10% of all journeys taken in Scotland by 2020. We are working in partnership with Cycling Scotland and other organisations.”
Sir Chris Hoy welcomed the move to provide more on-road training to schoolchildren, saying: “I went everywhere on my bike as a kid, and developing road sense is really important.”
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.