More school children across Cambridgeshire will have the chance to gain cycling experience this year thanks to a kind donation from local employer Cambridge Assessment.
Bikeability, funded by the Department for Transport to offer free cycle training for children, has three levels, and each level is designed to improve cycling skills. Training takes trainees through the basics of balance and control, all the way up to planning a route and cycling on main roads.
Each year an estimate of the number of training places required for the county is submitted to the Department for Transport as a bid for funding, and up until 2016/17, the number of required places in Cambridgeshire was always met.
In recent years though the numbers asking for training have been increasing steadily, but demand for a funding pot that has remained at the same level means that requests cannot always be met.
Last year Cambridgeshire County Council was granted additional funding by the Department for Transport of £61,840 to maintain the number of training places available until the end of the financial year, but additional money is likely to be needed for the financial year 2019-2020 to support Bikeability cycle training for school children.
The County Council considered the idea of charging schools for Bikeability training if
Various options were put forward for approaching potential Bikeability supporters, and Cambridge Assessment was contacted late last year by Cllr Linda Jones, local councillor for Petersfield, and cycle champion Cllr Noel Kavanagh, local councillor for Romsey.
Maria Anderson, Group Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing for Cambridge Assessment, said: “We are delighted to be able to support such a good cause, helping children improve their cycling skills and get the confidence they need when out and about on their bikes. As a health and safety practitioner myself, I’m really pleased to be involved with an initiative like this that helps make people safer”.
Cllr Linda Jones, Chair of the Cambridge Joint Area Committee, said: “We are extremely grateful to Cambridge Assessment for their kind contribution and sponsorship of the Bikeability programme for 2019-2020.
“Bikeability offers children the chance to gain practical skills and develop an understanding of how to cycle and educates them about the needs of other road users - taking them from the playground to the road.
“Cambridge Assessment’s donation helps to top up the current funding from the Department for Transport and will enable us to deliver Bikeability Level 2 training for an extra 150 children this year.”
Cllr Ian Bates, Chairman of the County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee, said: “A very big thank you to Cambridge Assessment for donating £6,000 to Bikeability training, which is a must for any young people wanting to get out and about on their bikes.
“Real experience on local roads is essential, and to have the chance to learn where to ride on the road, how to pass parked vehicles and negotiate junctions is vitally important.
“Bikeability gives children the skills and confidence they need to cycle safely on the roads, as well as encouraging them to continue cycling into adulthood.”
In Cambridgeshire, Bikeability is delivered by local company Outspoken Training.
By the end of the course, the children will have learnt how to ensure their bike is road-safe, be able to recognise typical hazards, plan an independent journey and use commonly-known hand signals to ensure other road users are made aware of what they are about to do.
There are other opportunities available to sponsor the scheme, and interested parties should contact Mike Davies on [email protected]