How to raise cycle awareness

28th February 1997 at 00:00
Like a puppy, a bike is not just for Christmas. You should consider producing an advice leaflet for parents so that pupils get bicycles that fit, are easy to ride and safe.

* For secondary pupils, recommend wheels with alloy rims, and a frame made from lightweight, chrome-moly tubing. Brand names include Reynolds, Columbus or Tange.

* A mid-range mountain bike or street bike should weigh about 30lb (13. 5 kg); a cheap, all-steel one can be anything up to 45lb (20.5 kg). The extra weight will persuade most pupils that cycling is hard work, rather than giving them a feeling of oneness with their machine. If price is a problem - expect to pay around Pounds 200 - consider buying second-hand.

* A bicycle used as school transport should have lights, mudguards and a luggage rack. Back-packs are uncomfortable and raise the rider's centre of gravity unneccessarily: let the bicycle carry the load, not the rider.

* Emphasise the importance of maintenance - David Bishop says most of the English Schools Cycling Association's courses for primary pupils start with their bikes being fixed, anything from pumping up tyres to adjusting brakes and chains.

* Safety: school-age children suffer a disproportionate number of accidents compared to the general population, according to the Department of Transport. So helmets should fit well and should be worn. All sold in Britain meet at least one of several standards, the most comprehensive of which is probably the Snell Memorial Foundation's, with the American National Safety Institute's Z90 a close second.

* The LED lights now widely available are cheap, long-lasting and highly visible, and should be standard equipment for any cyclist.

* Bicycle dealers often give a discount to cycling club members - a school could benefit from a similar arrangement.

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