Just 14% of parents feel very confident to teach their children cycling using the Highway Code, new research reveals

New YouGov research has revealed that just 14% of parents felt very confident to teach their child to cycle safely on the roads using the
Highway Code.

The Bikeability Trust, the charity responsible for national cycle training across England, said it wants cycling to be recognised like swimming as a life skill.

The charity, which manages, develops and promotes the Bikeability programme on behalf of the Department for Transport, is calling for funding from 2023 to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn this vital skill, and this latest research demonstrates the desire of parents for professional instructors to support their children’s cycling skills.

With 74% of those surveyed also agreeing that professional cycle training for children is important, the importance to the public of ensuring children have the skills to cycle with confidence is clear. This, combined with safe cycle routes (59%), time for parents to practice with their child (34%), and mandatory driver education on sharing the road with cyclists (30%), were listed as solutions which would make parents feel more confident to allow their child to cycle on the roads.

Emily Cherry, chief executive at The Bikeability Trust, said: “Cycle to School Week is a fantastic opportunity for schools to think about how they can fit cycling into daily school life and celebrate pedal power! We know from feedback and research that children trained through Bikeability are safer more confident cyclists, and parents back our teaching.

“Bikeability cycle training is essential to ensure Active Travel England to reach their target of 50% of journeys walked or cycled by 2030. If we embed these active habits now, we can ensure that our children grow up to keen and confident cyclists.”

Chris Boardman, Olympic champion cyclist and National Active Travel Commissioner for Active Travel England, joined Cherry at a Bikeability session in Newcastle. Pupils at St Charles Primary School, Gosforth, learnt how to position themselves on the roads at junctions, how to signal clearly, and how to ride confidently to the road conditions.

Boardman said: “Cycling is a life skill and Bikeability helps to unlock the freedom and fun that comes with learning to ride. Children need protected infrastructure to take them to school, the shops or the park but they also need the cycling skills to navigate their journeys with confidence.

“Bikeability enables children to travel under their own steam, save the planet, and stay healthy, it’s a crucial tool to help us create a generation of cyclists. Cycle to School Week is the perfect time to try something different – it might change how you travel in the future.”

Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said:  “This research shows how crucial it is for children to feel confident and safe when cycling. Parents know this is a great way to get about cheaply and healthily, and to connect with other people in their community, which cars simply cannot achieve.

“Now more than ever, we must make it easier and more attractive for people everywhere to walk, wheel and cycle. Sustained Government support is vital to guaranteeing protected cycle lanes on main routes to schools, so everyone can feel welcome and safe on our roads.”

Read more: Open to everybody: How Bikeability gives children the skills and confidence to get on their bikes

Organised by the Bikeability Trust with the support of Sustrans, Cycle to School Week aims to promote and celebrate cycling to encourage more families to swap their car for pedals on the school run. Schools can take part in Cycle to School Week by encouraging their pupils to pledge to swap one car journey for cycling, cycle to school every day, cycle with their family or discover somewhere new
on a cycle ride.

Schools can also make use of cycling-focused presentations, activities and lesson plans created by the Bikeability Trust and Sustrans. The resources will also be available throughout the year. Cycle to School Week is taking place now until 7th October.

In a recent interview with BikeBiz, Cherry said: “It’s a week of action, a unifying moment to show parents, carers, schools and children the importance of getting on your cycles and giving some top tips for doing it.

“This year we’re asking families, children, and schools to take an approach of pledging to try something new. That could be cycling to school, it could also be travelling as a family on a new route, it could just be using your cycle for the first time to go to the shops or for leisure. We’re asking for a pledge-based approach, which is really important.” Read more here.

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