Bikeability is the Cycling Proficiency Test for the 21st century.  Bikeability is designed to give the next generation the cycling skills and confidence to ride their bikes on today’s busy roads. There are three Bikeability levels and children will be encouraged and inspired to achieve all three levels, recognising that there is always more to learn and to enjoy on a bike.

Like most activities, cycling is not risk free but fortunately serious accidents are rare. To put the risk in context, there is one cyclist death per 33 million kilometres cycled – it would take the average cyclist 21,000 years to ride that far.

Furthermore, in 2005, 148 cyclists were killed, which is 20 per cent below the 1994-98 average. Research has shown that the more people cycle, the safer it becomes. In the Netherlands, for example, as the number of people cycling has risen, casualties have fallen.

Cycling promotes good health and longer life. Any risks associated with cycling for both children and adults are far outweighed by the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. Cycling for at least 30 minutes a day for example gives people a level of fitness equivalent to being 10 years younger. In terms of life-years gained and lost, the Government acknowledges that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh any risks involved – by a factor of 20:1 according to information provided by CTC, the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation.

The National Standard for Cycle Training, which underpins Bikeability, has been designed by the leading experts in the field of road safety as well as cycling. It is designed on similar principles to lessons for motorcycle riders and car drivers, assessing the likely risks and obstacles faced by cyclists at each stage of their development and created training that encourages them to make their journeys with the skills to manage these risks as far as is practicable.

Five Top Tips for safer cycling

Always make sure that:

1. Your child’s bike is roadworthy – encourage them to do their Bikeability Level 1 where they can learn how to check their bike

2. Your child is seen – ensure they wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing

3. Your child is not weighed down by heavy bags and rucksacks

4. Your child wears a helmet that fits properly – the Department for Transport strongly recommends wearing a helmet at all times

5. Your child plans their cycle route before they set off and makes use of cycle lanes where possible

Ultimately, you should ensure that your child has done their Bikeability training! Cycle training can make the biggest difference to your child’s safety on the roads and by doing their Bikeability they will gain the skills and confidence to ride safely in a modern traffic environment.

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