On yer bike

11th March 2011 at 00:00
A three-level training programme that teaches children how to cycle safely on roads could see more riding into school. Julia Belgutay reports

A scheme to equip Scottish schoolchildren with the skills and confidence needed to cycle unaccompanied to school was launched today.

Bikeability Scotland, a three-level training programme administered by Cycling Scotland, focuses on teaching pupils how to cycle on roads, rather than in the playground. The idea is to make it more practical and effective.

While the first step covers basic cycle control skills and is taught off the road, children at levels two and three are taught how to turn left and right, overtake parked cars, cycle around roundabouts and on multi-lane roads. They also learn how to plan the safest route on quiet roads and cycle paths, and negotiate traffic and junctions.

Cycling Scotland's chief executive Ian Aitken says: "The biggest barrier stopping more people from getting out on their bikes is a lack of confidence to cycle on the road. Cycle training is the best way to address this, and I think it is important to teach these skills at a young age."

At Longstone Primary in Edinburgh, P6 children are already using the scheme, and have reached level 2. Active schools co-ordinator Lorna Norman says pupils enjoyed the training and would benefit for the rest of their lives: "Some of them have no road sense. It is so valuable to get them out on the roads. As well as life skills, it gives them independence and confidence."

Olympic cycling legend Chris Hoy and other celebrities have lent their support to the scheme, and Cycling Scotland is calling on volunteers across Scotland to get involved, so that as many children as possible can benefit.

Training materials are available nationwide from today. Anyone interested in volunteering can find information on www.cyclingscotland.org.

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