British Cycling has welcomed the announcement that £50m will be spent over the next four years to help train and improve the safety of young cyclists across the country.
The grant, announced by the DfT yesterday (21 Dec) in its new road safety plan, will be invested into the Bikeability cycle training programme which aims to give school children the practical skills and understanding required to cycle on today’s roads.
The funding follows the announcement last week of a new sport strategy, Sporting Future, which emphasises the importance of ensuring that children are given the opportunity to get involved in cycling from a young age.
British Cycling says since its inception, more than 1.5m school children have received training through Bikeability, which takes trainees from the basics of balance and control, all the way to planning and making an independent journey on busier roads.
Nick Chamberlin, British Cycling’s cycle training manager, said: “There can be few parents who don’t want their children to have the freedoms earlier generations enjoyed. There is a strong link between children’s happiness and their ability to travel independently and Bikeability gives children the tools and the confidence they, and their parents, need to allow them to get around safely by bike.
“It is encouraging that the DfT recognise that if learnt at an early age, proficiency in cycling can equip young people with the skills, confidence and inspiration to keep fit and active throughout their lives.
“This announcement is an excellent start towards ensuring that our school children can reap the benefits of having an effective cycling provision as a cornerstone of our education system.”
Among the other road safety measures announced by the DfT is a consultation on ensuring that side guards remain permanently fitted to HGVs.
Martin Key, British Cycling’s campaign manager, said: “British Cycling’s ten-point #ChooseCycling plan has outlined what needs to change to make Britain a true cycling nation. Making HGVs fit for use on the roads is a big part of this, so the new measures announced by the DfT are very welcome.
“If more people are to take up cycling as a means of travel, this needs to be part of a package of measures and included in a proper strategy led by government. There is still much work to be done before Britain reaches the levels of countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark when it comes to cycle safety, principally the construction of segregated cycle lanes on busy routes to completely remove HGV danger from roads.”