The Partnership now offer Balance Bike training to schools for pupils in Reception. The partnership have purchased a small fleet of balance bikes and helmets and schools are offered 3 x 30 minute sessions for each child.
The programme is designed to help children gain the confidence and skills required to ride a pedal bike independently, getting them off to the best start in cycling and assisting their ability to participate in Bikeability at a later stage in their school years.
LEVEL 1 Bikeability – For children in school year 3 and 4
LEVEL 1&2 Bikeability combined– For children in school year 5 & 6
LEVEL 3 Bikeability – For Year 6 pupils +
What is Bikeability?
Bikeability is ‘cycling proficiency’ for the 21st century, designed to give the next generation the skills and confidence to ride their bikes on today’s roads.
There are three Bikeability Levels. A child will typically start Bikeability lessons once they have learnt to ride a bike, with 10-11 year olds progressing through to Level 2, and then Level 3 at secondary school (11-18 year olds). Certificates and shiny luminous badges for each level are awarded to children who successfully complete each course and children are encouraged and inspired to achieve all three levels, recognising that there is always more to learn and to enjoy on a bike.
Bikeability was developed by more than 20 professional organisations including the Royal Society for Prevention against Accidents and is supported by cross-Government departments including the Department for Transport, Department of Health and Department for Children, Schools and Families.
So far, more than 250,000 young cyclists have been trained and hundreds of thousands of coveted Bikeability badges have been awarded. The aim is for half a million children to be Bikeability trained by 2012 and the ultimate vision is that no child should leave primary school without the opportunity to take part in Bikeability training.
check out these new short films showing parents, teachers and Local Authority Officers sharing their experience of Bikeability:
The Three Levels
There’s a Bikeability level to match every ability, whether you’re just starting out or already have some good skills and just want to use your bike more safely and more often. You might start from the beginning at Level 1 and train all the way through to Level 3, or you might dive in with Level 3 if you already have lots of cycling experience. It’s important to remember that there’s always something new to learn, and that the right level of Bikeability training will help you to develop the best habits that will keep you safe whenever you cycle.
During Level 1 Bikeability training, you learn to control and master your bike. The training takes place in an environment away from cars or traffic – usually in a playground or closed car park. You will gain basic cycle control skills including starting and pedalling; stopping; manoeuvring; signalling and using the gears on your bike. You will usually be trained in groups of 3-12 cyclists.
Once you’ve completed your Bikeability Level 1 and been awarded your red badge, you will be able to:
- Get on your bike, start cycling, then stop and get off
- Ride your bike using the gears
- Look then signal
- Make your bike go where you want it to, including moving around objects safely
- Stop quickly if you need to
- Look all around you when you’re riding, including behind, without wobbling
- Signal if you’re turning right and left, without wobbling
- Give your bike a simple check to ensure it is road-worthy
Know your wheels
Here are our top tips for keeping your bike in tip-top condition:
- Tyres – make sure you’re tyres are pumped up. Give them a pinch to make sure they are hard. If they feel soft, get someone to pump them up. Check they are not worn down
- Brakes – test them before every ride and make sure they are not rubbing against the tyres
- Chain – make sure it’s not hanging off, broken or rusty
- Saddle – make sure it’s adjusted to the right height. Too high or too low and it won’t be comfortable or safe. To get the right height, adjust the saddle until you can stretch your leg out and comfortably place the ball of your foot on the ground. This means that when your pedal is at its lowest position, your leg should be slightly bent
- Lights and reflectors – if you’re planning on riding at night make sure the lights on the front and back of your bike are both working and not covered up by mud or anything. You should also use your lights when the visibility is low, such as in bad weather
During Level 2 Bikeability training you will get out on the roads! Level 2 gives you a real cycling experience so that you are able to deal with traffic on short journeys such as cycling to schools. You will usually be trained in groups of 3-12 cyclists.
Once you’ve completed your Bikeability Level 2 and been awarded your orange badge, you will be able to:
- Start and finish a journey by road, including passing parked or slower moving vehicles
- Be aware of everything around you and signal your intentions to other road users when someone needs to know what you’re doing
- Position yourself properly on the road and pass side roads
- Use junctions including turning left and right into major and minor roads
- Decide whether a cycle lane will help with your journey
- Use the Highway Code, particularly when it comes to understanding road signs
Get geared up
Before you put your Bikeability Level 2 into practice out on the streets, make sure you’ve got the right equipment – it doesn’t even have to cost a lot of money.
Choosing a set of wheels – there are loads of different bikes to choose from – such as road-racing, mountain, BMX or hybrid – decide what you want a bike for then visit your local bike shop to find out which one suits you best
Get kitted out – whatever the weather if you’re likely to be cycling every day, you might want to invest in some waterproof gear to keep yourself dry on your way in to school or work (you can pick up over-trousers and waterproof jackets at cycling shops or outdoor stores). When cycling, make sure your shoes are tied and the laces don’t hang down
Brighten up – being safe is all about being seen. When cycling in the day wear bright coloured clothes and if you’re cycling after dark make sure you wear reflective clothing and make sure the lights on the front and back of your bike are both in working order
Helmet – make sure your helmet fits your head. For a proper fit, the helmet should fit snugly and shouldn’t allow any sideways movement
Secure your bike – hundreds of thousands of bicycles are stolen across Britain every year, so don’t let yours be one of them – get a lock and put it through the frame wherever you leave your bike, taking anything that is easy to nick with you (lights, pumps etc)
During Bikeability Level 3 training you will learn the skills to tackle a wider variety of traffic conditions than on Level 2. When you reach Level 3 standard you will be able to deal with all types of road conditions and more challenging traffic situations. The course covers dealing with hazards, making ‘on-the-move’ risk assessments and planning routes for safer cycling. Normally you will do this once you have started secondary school. As with Levels 1 and 2, you will usually be trained in groups of 3-12 cyclists.
Once you’ve completed your Bikeability Level 3 and been awarded your green badge, you’ll be able to cycle almost anywhere and:
- Make a trip safely to school, work or elsewhere on any roads
- Use complex junctions and road features such as roundabouts, multi-lane roads and traffic lights
- ‘Filter’, to keep moving through stationary traffic
- Plan your route
- Interpret road signs
- Cycling is so much faster than walking, meaning you can get to school in half the time – that means more time in bed!
- You’ll get fit – cycling is one of the best forms of exercise you can get.
- Cycling is good for the planet – bikes don’t pollute the air with exhaust fumes, the only energy they use is pedal power!
- Cycling gives you loads of freedom – you can pop round to a mate’s house without having to wait for a lift.
- More children cycling will lead to improved health and fitness, reduced congestion and pollution and hopefully even more Olympic champions!
- There’s a brand new world for you to discover when you get in the saddle, whether you’re cycling to school or riding around in your free time with your mates.
- Cycling at least twenty miles a week reduces the risk of heart disease to less than half that for non-cyclists who take no other exercise.
- Kids who cycle are more confident, more independent and perform better at school!
- Because it’s fun and it’s free – what more do you need!
Get Your School Cycling
Making sure that your school has the opportunity to take part in Bikeability is an important part of teaching your class that cycling is great way to get about, but there are lots of ways in which to make sure the training is only the start of your school’s cycling journey. Read on to find out how you can bring Bikeability to your school, then follow our simple guide to help you encourage pupils and adults in your school community to enjoy all the fun, freedom and health benefits of cycling.
Get Started with Bikeability
First, find out from your headteacher if Bikeability is already delivered in your school, and ask when it is scheduled for. If there aren’t any plans yet, get in touch with us to get some sessions booked.
Once pupils have learned the basics and are keen to use their new skills the next step is to help create a school cycling culture to make sure they get a chance to use the skills every day.
We’ve put together some ideas that should help you to get started in your school.
Teach the facts
Start by talking through these key facts with your pupils:
- Cycling is a cheap, effective and environmentally friendly way to staying fit.
- Cycling is an efficient form of transport so you spend less time sitting in traffic jams and arrive on time.
Use the interactive game Cycling top trumps to explore the benefits of cycling with your class.
There are more cycle routes available than ever before.
Teachers say that pupils who cycle to school are energised, excited, ready to learn and can travel safely and independently.
Once pupils have been involved in Bikeability they are far more likely to become regular cyclists.
Many schools have benefited from School Travel Plan grants and other Local Authority Safe Routes to School funding to install cycle storage.
Cycle locks get better all the time, and more and more schools are providing secure storage for bikes at school.
If parents choose to cycle to school with their children on the way to work they’ll be less likely to be late, and will feel sharper and fitter when they get there – they might even lose weight too!
Most pupils live close enough to school to cycle comfortably – the average journey in England is 2.3 miles.
Apart from snow, ice and fog, which in fact doesn’t happen for many days a year, you can cycle comfortably on most days of the year.
Discuss the issues
Talk to pupils about this key puzzle: If cycling is so good for children and adults alike, why don’t more people leave the car at home and cycle to school?
Some of the arguments adults often use about why they are not keen to let their children cycle more are:
- It is too dangerous on the roads these days
- I’m worried about their skills on the road
- It’s too far
- There’s nowhere to leave the bike once you get to school
- The bike might get stolen
- They have too much kit to carry
- They might get lost
- I just think it’s easier to drop the children off at school on the way to work
- The weather in this country is too bad for cycling
How do the pupils feel about these points? Do they share the views of adults?
Do some market research
Ask pupils to conduct a survey to investigate how their friends and families feel about cycling. Include a section asking for ideas about how to encourage people to cycle more. You can use the survey template or ask pupils to help create their own survey sheet.
Download Survey Template (347)
Create a school cycling policy
Ask pupils to contribute to the creation of a school cycling policy. This is an excellent project for the school council to get their teeth into.
The Government will award a grant to English state schools that implement a STP to help fund measures identified in the plan. This could include things like cycle parking and lockers. Details are available from local authority school travel advisers.
Here’s a checklist of points to include in a school cycling policy:
- Bikeability training
- Cycle storage
- Secure lockers for helmets and bikes
- Cycle permit scheme – granted on agreement of rights and responsibilities of the cyclists and their parents
- Roadworthiness of bikes – cycle maintenance
- Car parking around the school
- Road design around the school
Work out a realistic timescale for implementation of your cycle policy, and try to consider the following:
- Who will be responsible for what?
- How will you know your cycling policy is successful?
- How will you monitor and review the policy?
Make sure your school has the opportunity to get Bikeability training – find out from your headteacher about when the training is scheduled for or, if there aren’t any plans yet, get in touch with us to get some sessions booked.
Make yourself heard!
Use some of the communication tools provided below to help you make the case for regular cycling.
Spread the message by holding a cycling awareness event for parents and carers. This could include:
A short talk from a member of the senior management team explaining why the school has decided to get involved in Bikeability and to promote cycling
Short presentations from pupils about what they like best about cycling
A cycle maintenance and repair workshop