British Cycling and Chris Boardman MBE say sensible thing, government prepares to ignore it*

Compulsory cycle training will tackle ‘obesity timebomb’

Putting cycle training on the national curriculum has been mooted before, but now the move is gathering some extra steam today thanks to a partnership between British Cycling and sustainable transport body Modeshift.

There’s a pressing need: Figures from the Health Survey for England have shown that obesity among young people is at its highest ever level. One in three children under 15 is overweight or obese. Chris Boardman today told Modeshift’s annual conference that it is no coincidence that only half of schools now offer cycle training for children after the cycling proficiency test was scrapped in 2007.

British Cycling today announced a new partnership with Modeshift to help give prominence and a voice to everyone working to promote active and sustainable travel to families and young people.

The aim of the partnership is to drive action at a local level, supporting communities to make positive changes to adopting active travel choices, and helping to ensure that local action steers the national active travel debate.

Boardman said: “For the first time there is now a danger that the next generation’s lifespan will be shorter than ours. Obesity in children is a ticking timebomb across Britain and until we start prioritising cycling as a form of transport and building exercise into young people’s daily lives this problem will only get worse.

“Cycling is a vital life skill that all children should have and is something that children carry with them throughout their adult lives. Bikeability training shouldn’t just be the preserve of children whose schools or local authorities happen to promote cycling – it should be for everyone.

"We’ve taught thousands of young people how to ride bikes but there are still millions of children who are missing out on cycling. Our partnership with Modeshift to encourage positive action at local level will strive to turn this situation around. Positive action at a local level, however small, can have a powerful ripple effect if those actions are replicated widely."

Ross Butcher, chair of Modeshift, said: “As a professional body, supporting sustainable travel, Modeshift are delighted that British Cycling has become our latest partner. They will perfectly complement our existing services and provide our members with a wider range of information to promote and encourage cycling in their regions.”

Making cycle training available to all children is one of the 10 recommendations listed in British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling action plan, published at an event in Parliament in February.

Chris Boardman will also address Modeshift conference delegates to talk about the need for greater leadership and a budget line for cycling in the government’s Cycling Delivery Plan, the barriers to getting people on bikes and how dedicated cycling infrastructure can boost health, wellbeing and the economy in regions across Britain. 

*Please forgive our cynicism. It’s not big or clever.

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