More than 50,000 children get cycling with Bikeability in the South West - but they have even bigger ambitions
By Susie Watkins
22nd Sep 2022 | Local News
Bikeability cycle training is booming across the South West, with 50,492 children learning how to cycle between April 2021 and March 2022.
Following an uplift in cycling across the country, schools have been quick to book Bikeability training to help their pupils learn how to cycle confidently on today's roads. In the South West, the number of children taking part in Bikeability has more than doubled since 20/21. This is thanks to an increased demand for Bikeability in schools as children and their families are looking more cheaper, healthier, and more sustainable ways to travel.
Children who cycle enjoy better physical health and mental wellbeing and cycling to school saves both money and the environment. Swapping the car for cycling on the school run saves a family around £160 a year in fuel costs and almost half a tonne of carbon emission, that's equal to growing almost eight trees for ten years. Kids in the South West aren't just learning an essential life skill when they learn to cycle with Bikeability – they're saving money and our planet.
Across England (excluding London), 439,802 children learnt to cycle with Bikeability over 12 months, with 12 per cent of those children living in the South West. Bikeability's expert instructors teach children essential cycling skills before taking the out on the roads to learn how to cycle confidently and safely with other road users.
It's not just children who are learning to cycle. Following a successful pilot in 2020, between April 2021 and March 2022, 2265 people from 621 families started their cycling journey with Bikeability Family as part of an initial small-scale rollout. Following the huge success of the new module, which helps families of all cycling abilities learn the basics of travelling together, even more families will have the opportunity to take part in Bikeability
Emily Cherry, Bikeability CEO, said: "After two years of lower than usual delivery numbers due to school closures during the pandemic, Bikeability is back with a boom. It's fantastic that more than half a million children and families took part in Bikeability from 2021 – 2022, with delivery numbers up across all regions.
"It's vital that children learn the essential life skill of cycling when they are young, as this helps embed healthy habits right into adulthood. I am so proud that we're helping to raise the next generation of cyclists, who will improve their health, protect the planet and save money by using something as simple as pedal power to travel.
"Bikeability has some incredible instructors and training providers in the South West. I'd like to thank them all for their hard work and commitment to teaching children and families to cycle."
Bikeability has taught more than four million children to cycle since its inception in 2007. In 2022 the Bikeability Trust received a record £20 million from the Department for Transport to deliver cycle training. By 2025, Bikeability aims to give every child in England the opportunity to learn to cycle.
Improving local cycling infrastructure helps to encourage more people to cycle and Bikeability enables children to start their cycling journey. Building cycle paths that separate cycles and motor vehicles and introducing low-traffic neighbourhoods creates a better environment for cycling and Bikeability gives families the tools they need to leave the car at home and start cycling.
Chris Boardman, National Active Travel Commissioner, said: "For cycling to be the natural first choice for everyday journeys to shops, schools and workplaces, two ingredients need to be present: safe spaces to cycle that are suitable for any age, and the ability to ride a cycle comfortably and confidently. Like swimming, being able to cycle is a life skill, one we want all children to learn from an early age. So well done to the Bikeability Trust on these impressive numbers."
Anybody can take part in Bikeability, you can find a course near you on the Bikeability website. If you're a teacher and would like to find out more about bringing Bikeability to your school, please click here.