Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Norman Baker unveils details of Bikeability funding in England for next three years

Department for Transport also publishes report into first five years of scheme

Transport Minister Norman Baker has today announced a total of £35 million of funding for Bikeability cycle training in schools throughout England over the next three years.

A total of £11 million in grants has been provided to local authorities and schools for 2012/13, which Mr Baker says will enable more than 300,000 schoolchildren to benefit from training under the scheme, described as ‘cycling proficiency for the 21st century.’

The Department for Transport (DfT) will provide a further £24 million in funding over the following two years, including £2 million to support a planned expansion of the scheme, while between 2012/13 and 2014/15, an additional £11.5 million is expected to benefit the initiative in the form of local contributions.

“Cycling brings many benefits, and as a government we are keen to encourage its uptake as a healthy and sustainable transport choice, which eases congestion and helps cut carbon,” said Mr Baker, who shortly after the Coalition Government had been formed in 2010 moved quickly to provide assurances over the future of Bikeability.

“It is vital that the next generation of cyclists is well prepared with the skills and confidence to ride safely and well on modern roads and this funding ensures that many more thousands of children will receive the solid grounding to set them up as lifelong cyclists,” he added.

Among the larger awards in the coming year are more than £400,000 going to Merseytravel, nearly £400,000 to Hampshire, and in excess of £350,000 in Staffordshire and £350,000 in Kent.

The DfT has also published a report that analyses the number of children riding their bikes to school since Bikeability was introduced by it via Cycling England – abolished by the Coalition Governmet last year – in 2006/07. A copy of the report is attached at the end of this article.

In the introduction to the report, the DfT points out that the intention is “to provide insight into the potential impacts Bikeability cycle training may have had at a local level based on observed correlations between data sets.

“However,” it adds, “with the existing data, it is not possible to present in a statistically meaningful way the impact of Bikeability cycle training on levels of cycling to school due to the absence of a meaningful comparison group.”

The East of England and the South East emerge as the regions with the highest modal share of pupils cycling to school, at 3.6 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively; London, at 1 per cent, has the lowest, followed by the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, both at 1.2 per cent, and the North East, at 1.3 per cent.

It’s impossible to say how much those levels of cycling may have been ifluenced by the introduction of Bikeability, but there are some regional differences in trends observed; since 2006/07, for example, the modal share in the North East has actually fallen from 1.8 per cent, while in Yorkshire and the Humber it has risen by 0.3 per cent.

The report includes a case study of the key correlations between levels of cycling, as established by the school census, and delivery of Bikeability in schools in Hertfordshire, although again it is at pains to point out that the data “should not be taken as indicative of any underlying causation.”

According to the DfT, the report highlights that “where there is a longer history of delivering cycle training, a higher proportion of children are cycling to secondary school.

“Further, those authorities that have received higher levels of Bikeability funding have seen larger increases in cycling to secondary school,” it adds.

Full breakdowns of Bikeability funding for 2012/13, split by local authority and school, can be found here.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


iDavid | 12 years ago

"Thousands of children will receive the solid grounding to set them up as lifelong cyclists".

This will never happen until govt starts to think of cycle training as part of a journey towards the driving test.

Better to have Bikeability Level 4 that teens must pass before they are granted a licence. Then we'll start to see young drivers thinking like cyclists, the tribal barriers will come down, safety will improve and more drivers will be tempted on to two wheels.

bikecellar | 12 years ago

As part of a national cycle to school competition last year I cycled to school with my grandchildren 8yrs and 5 yrs (tandem + solo) for three weeks, only 1/2 mile or so, they normally cycle or walk anyway (no family car)but got extra points for me going as well. Anyway to get to the point, their mother was able to walk to school primary and comprehensive throughout her school life but her children will have to be bussed to a comprehensive 7mls away, my daughters old school is to be demolished and not replaced. So her children will be taken out of their community for education at an early age and face the horrors of school buses and being translocated to a different community, not to mention the difficulty of parents getting to this site by public transport to attend school events. Just what is the point of encouraging children to cycle/walk to school then making it difficult for them to do so. The right and left hands working against each other.

Campag_10 | 12 years ago

The report on Bikeability linked in this story is an interesting read. From the study in Hertfordshire, the best schools are achieving a modal sharing for cycling of less than 4% – which I find really disappointing.
In response to Sudor:
Some Bikeability trainers also offer to set up bike trains for the home/school/home ride. It can cost about £2.5k for geodata analysis and route mapping plus risk assessment and volunteer training.
In response to Mercuryone:
Costs for implementing measures for safer routes will vary regionally, but I've worked on £100 per intersection on routes for estimating budgets. (That assumes a double-sided sign, bolted to an existing post. Coloured road surface treatment will obviously cost more, but I've heard anecdotally from a senior highways engineer that signposting cycle routes along quieter residential roads is very effective.

PS - you're wasting your time on your MP - lobby councillors at your highways authority (unitary or county council).

Sudor | 12 years ago

Is anyone aware of any initiative to encourage bike to school peloton/groups (kids chain gang!) for school children? similar to "walking crocodiles".

Groups of children riding to school accompanied by a couple of parent/adult volunteers may reassure parents ( that cycling to school is safe and fun) and improve childrens' cycling skill/confidence. I (and most riders I know) feel that that cycling in a group is (on the whole - not always) safer than riding alone.

Drivers (again on the whole - not always) are more likely to make tolerable allowance for a group than an individual on a bike. Whilst I'm in favour of 20 mph residential/urban speed limit Mercury One's comment that this costs £15k per road (anyone know how much a safe cycle route to school signage costs?) and his/her LA can only afford 2 is depressing.

A Group of children on bikes (accompanied by adults) will calm traffic for nil cost save some riding proficiency training (£40 per pupil). Parental volunteers should be easy to recruit and train as currently, most parents accompany (or drive) their children to school anyway. Thoughts anyone?

WolfieSmith | 12 years ago

I'm still working on our local MP to get 20mph in our area. No through roads, most speeding by residents, it would be perfect for total 20mph but the local council
Only has a budget for 'two roads' per year at £15k each  13

Something fishy going on. I will report back.  39

georgee | 12 years ago

Thanks Norm, educate our kids to ride on sh*t or little safe road infrastructure, why tackle the proble if we can fudge your way around it!

Why not lookat the increases in exeter way above these levels as an example? ahh no, thats where a bike lane was built for them rather than just training.

bassjunkieuk | 12 years ago

Excellent, so what Norman Baker is saying is they are providing this money in the vain hope that our children can adopt a method of cycling that will help them deal with "modern" (which you may as well replace with "motorised vehicle dominated") roads?

I know this may sound rather extreme, but how about they actually do something about the conditions on the road so that children (and adults) don't require special training to be able to do something as simple and wonderful as ride a bike in relative safety?

Latest Comments