Make cycle training compulsory in schools, says British Cycling policy czar

Making cycle training compulsory for all school children would help to solve Britain’s obesity "ticking timebomb", British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman says.

British Cycling cites figures from the Health Survey for England that show childhood  obesity at its highest ever level. One in three children under 15 is overweight or obese. Boardman said that it is no coincidence that only half of schools now offer cycle training for children after the cycling proficiency test was scrapped in 2007. 

Boardman said: “For the first time there is now a danger that the next generation’s lifespan will be shorter than ours. Obesity in children is a ticking timebomb across Britain and until we start prioritising cycling as a form of transport and building exercise into young people’s daily lives this problem will only get worse.

“Cycling is a vital life skill that all children should have and is something that children carry with them throughout their adult lives.  Bikeability training shouldn’t just be the preserve of children whose schools or local authorities happen to promote cycling - it should be for everyone.

"We’ve taught thousands of young people how to ride bikes but there are still millions of children who are missing out on cycling. Our partnership with Modeshift to encourage positive action at local level will strive to turn this situation around. Positive action at a local level, however small, can have a powerful ripple effect if those actions are replicated widely.”

Modeshift is a lottery-funded body that provides resources to local authorities to encourage schools to adopt active travel. Membership, and therefore acces to its resources, is only available to officers of local authorities. Boardman was speaking at the organisation's national conference.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.