The ten regional coordinators in the government-backed English Regions Cycling Development Team are visiting all English local authorities to find out what they are doing to encourage cycling, which includes completing a detailed questionnaire on cyclist training.
The information gathered will be the most comprehensive ever obtained. It will establish what training is available in each local authority, the numbers receiving training, the qualifications of the instructors, and training costs and investment. The survey should be completed early in 2003.
Cycle training is vital to encourage more children to ride to school and to continue cycling as teenagers and adults. Information from this survey will inform the National Cycling Strategy Board for England, which has a remit to increase the proportion of journeys made by bike from two to eight percent of the total by 2012.
Steven Norris, chair of the National Cycling Strategy Board for England, said: "Training for all ages is one essential part of our strategy to increase cycling in the UK. This survey will tell us just how much work we have to do to get the right training in place."
Findings from this survey will also be used by CTC in its project to set UK-wide standards for the organisation of all cycling activities. Specifically, CTC will be
developing a framework that will cover all aspects of cycling instruction and leadership.
This framework will include training for children, child protection, organisation of outdoor trips, charity rides, cycling holidays and events on public roads. Part of this is a proposal for an accreditation scheme for cycle trainers. A consultation document has already been published and CTC plans to establish all other aspects of accreditation by 2004.
CTC is also working on a project to develop a national cycle training scheme for adults and teenagers, grant funded by the Department for Transport and the Department of Health. It is due to report next spring.
CTC wants to see the number of children trained to new national standards quadruple by 2006. Around 300,000 children complete cycle training schemes each year but at least half of those programmes do not meet existing guidelines.
CTC director Kevin Mayne said: "CTC proposed a national audit some time ago and we are delighted that it is now taking place. For too long, cycle training has been about children in playgrounds with bollards.
"If cycle use is to increase significantly, we need to see it as a way of giving people of all ages the confidence and skills to ride on our roads."