- essential bike safety and skills training will be offered to every child in England
- expected spend on cycling and walking from 2016 to 2021 has doubled to £2.4 billion
- an extra £22 million for the Access Fund, Big Bike Revival and Walk to School Outreach will fund projects next year to kickstart behaviour change
The government has announced all children in England will be taught the skills for a lifetime of cycling, as its Bikeability training programme is significantly expanded.
The Cycling Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, will join world and European champion track cyclist Andy Tennant in a Bikeability session at Newnham Primary School in Daventry.
The commitment will see an additional 400,000 training places offered on the scheme each year, providing children with the core skills to cycle safely and confidently on the road. More than 80% of children aged between 8 and 10 years old own a bike and since its launch in 2006, more than 3 million children have taken part in the Bikeability scheme.
Chris Heaton-Harris, Cycling and Walking Minister, said:
Cycling is a fun and enjoyable way for children to get to school, the shops or see their friends. It is also environmentally friendly and has a positive impact on their mental and physical health.
Extending Bikeability training will inspire the next generation to take to the roads as confident and proficient cyclists and will play an important role in helping us meet our net-zero emission targets.
Former world and European champion track cyclist, Andy Tennant, said:
If we want our children to continue cycling into adulthood it is absolutely vital that we equip them with the skills and knowledge to ride at a young age.
Learning to cycle is a brilliant way to help children live happy, healthy and independent lives, and we’re absolutely thrilled that so many more children are now going to benefit from the programme in the coming years.
Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK Chief Executive said:
Projects like Bikeability and the Big Bike Revival provide the skills for safer cycling to some of the people who need it the most. It’s fantastic to see the government continue to back programmes that deliver and are helping thousands of people every year on their cycling journeys.
Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity said:
We welcome the intention to extend Bikeability training to all school children. Walking and cycling for shorter journeys provide great health and environmental benefits.
And with road transport now accounting for 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, making them easier and accessible to more people is one of the best ways to reach our carbon-zero targets.
Joe Irvin OBE, Chief Executive, Living Streets:
We all need to walk more and drive less, to help tackle the crises of public health, traffic congestion, air pollution and climate change. Starting healthy habits at an early age is crucial to achieving this.
In schools where successful initiatives like WOW are in place, we are seeing more families choose active and sustainable ways to travel. We need to be making it possible for families to swap to healthier forms of travel and this funding will go a long way to doing that in these local authority areas.
The announcement comes as the government has revealed that expected spend between 2016 and 2021 on active travel has doubled to £2.4 billion.
The government has also today announced that it will invest £22 million in a range of national schemes over the next year:
- £20 million will go to extend the Access Fund which helps local authorities support more people to cycle and walk
- £1 million will go towards the Big Bike Revival – a grass roots project encouraging more than 40,000 people to take up cycling who wouldn’t normally consider it
- £1 million will be invested in the Walk to School outreach programmes offered by the government’s partners Cycling UK and Living Streets
The Access Fund investment will enable more employers to provide cycle training at work, as well as advice to make it easier for people to make the switch towards more sustainable forms of transport. For example – Blackpool and Sheffield County Councils will receive £2.5 million each to fund their ‘Walk To’ programmes for another year, while Devon County Council will benefit from a £500,000 grant to support their ‘Walking and Cycling to Prosperity’ initiative.