Is Bikeability Scotland similar to the old Cycling Proficiency training?
Yes it's a similar concept, but Bikeability Scotland builds on the Scottish Cycle Training Scheme by promoting on-road training for levels 2 and 3. This provides a realistic training environment, and teaches pupils the skills they need to deal with traffic when they're out riding their bikes. Level 1 training teaches pupils bike handling skills in an off-road location, so that they are able to control their bikes before progressing to on-road training for level 2.
Why is Bikeability Scotland the recommended cycle training for pupils?
Bikeability Scotland is underpinned by the National Standard for cycle training, and is therefore like a quality assurance mark for cycle training – a way of identifying training which is delivered to the highest standards.
The National Standard for cycle training is the series of outcomes that cover the skills necessary for cyclists in different road conditions. It is built upon similar principles to training for motorcycle riders and car drivers, and was developed by over 20 expert organisations. The National Standard for cycle training is maintained by the Department for Transport.
How much does the training cost?
Bikeability Scotland training is delivered in-house by school/local authority staff or volunteers. Your local authority will provide free instructor training for anyone wishing to deliver Bikeability Scotland sessions.
Who can deliver Bikeability Scotland training to pupils?
It's usually delivered by a member of staff at the school (e.g. a teacher, teaching assistant or member of facilities staff), or a volunteer (often a parent/guardian of one of the pupils, or a member of the local community). Cycling Scotland recommends that all instructors attend recognised training courses, outlined here. Your local authority co-ordinator, whose details you can find here, can advise you of the training options in your area.
Which year groups should receive Bikeability Scotland training?
There are no set year groups in which each level of Bikeability Scotland should be delivered but, as a guide, these are the year groups in which the training often takes place:
- Level 1 - P5
- Level 2 - P6
- Level 3 - P7-S2
Do pupils have to do all three levels of Bikeability Scotland?
We recommend that pupils do all three levels, but it's not compulsory and it will often depend on how much cycling experience the pupils have.The three levels have been designed around taking children on a natural pathway from the basics all the way to more complex journeys by bike, in a range of different road environments. For children to get the most from this pathway it is recommended that they take part in all three levels when there is the opportunity to do so. If the pupils are already confident controlling their bikes and have some cycling experience, they might be able to go straight to level 2 or even level 3.
What steps should we follow to start delivering Bikeability Scotland training sessions?
Please follow the step-by-step instructions here.
Where can I get copies of the handbooks and other resources?
Please follow the steps listed here to set up your Bikeability Scotland training sessions, which includes details about ordering resources.
Where does Bikeability Scotland training take place?
Level 1 takes place in the playground, or other suitable off-road location, while pupils learn bike handling skills. Level 2 and 3 training takes place on the roads. Trainees will ultimately be riding their bikes on the roads, so it is really important that their training takes place on the roads too, so that they know how to deal with traffic.
Do pupils need to wear helmets during the training?
Ultimately, the decision to wear helmets will depend on the delivery organisation’s policies and operating procedures. It is widely recognised that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk. However in the majority of cases, the delivery organisation's policies will require trainees to wear helmets during training. Organisations often choose to make this a requirement because trainees may still be developing their control of a bike while learning and consolidating their skills.
Helmets may provide protection during a fall or collision, but they will not prevent an incident from occurring. It is essential that cycle helmets fit properly, as an incorrectly fitted helmet can be worse than no helmet at all.
What sort of bikes can pupils use for the training?
The most important thing is to ensure that the pupils' bikes are safe and the right size for them. Before the training takes place, ask parents to check over their child's bike, which includes pumping up the tyres and adjusting the saddle to the right height. For Bikeability levels 2 and 3 the bicycle must be in a road-worthy condition with an independent front and rear brake.
Having gears on a bike can be a real advantage for completing Bikeability Scotland sessions, but is not essential. The instructor leading the Bikeability session will have the final say on whether each pupil's bike is safe for them to complete the training on.
The Highway Code states that bikes must use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector at night. Although Bikeability training usually takes place during daylight, please remember that trainees may still be cycling to/from school in darkness and so they should be reminded of this requirement. It is also recommended that bikes are fitted with a front white reflector, and that lights are used for training taking place in poor weather conditions. You can read the Highway Code's requirements for bicycles here and here.
Many children have BMX bikes. Providing these are are fitted with both front and rear brakes and in good working order they can be used for Bikeability Scotland training. However, BMX bikes can put children participating in Bikeability cycle training at a disadvantage due to their lack of gears and low saddle position.
What if pupils don't have a bike they can bring in for the training?
Contact your local authority co-ordinator to see if they have any bikes that the school could borrow (you can find their contact details here). If parents and pupils are happy to share bikes, then this is an option. Unfortunately though it may be the case that pupils without bikes aren't able to take part.
What happens in the event of poor weather?
Training will usually still take place in the event of poor weather – the training is supposed to take place in realistic cycling environments, and rain and cold are very realistic conditions! Ask parents to ensure that their children bring appropriate clothing for the training. The lead instructor will decide if training should go ahead in the event of very poor weather.
How many times should you train in the playground prior to moving on-road?
This is for the instructor to decide, and it very much depends on the ability of the trainees, but many instructors will feel more comfortable perfoming each manoeuvre in the playground at least once before going on-road.
Some trainees are not strong enough to move on-road – what do I do?
Instructors should assess pupils' skills prior to on-road training. If several are not strong enough to move onto the road, then a couple of extra sessions delivered to the whole of the group in a playground environment and practising manoeuvres may be enough to build up their confidence to move on-road. If some individuals are still struggling, then it may be the case that they cannot complete the on-road training. Instructors should use their judgement and this should be exercised carefully and professionally, and they should never feel under pressure to take all pupils on-road if they are not ready for it.
Some trainees have never cycled before – what do I do?
One way to avoid this is to ask pupils and parents if they can ride a bicycle prior to training. If a number of children cannot ride a bike, you may be able to offer some additional sessions prior to delivering Bikeability Scotland training. Or you could ask the parents to get involved in practising with their children prior to training.
Instructors may want to ask for additional volunteers to work with them in the first few sessions of training so that extra support can be given to pupils who have limited experience on a bike.
Can trainees with disabilities take part?
Yes they can take part, however all trainees with disabilities should be assessed on an individual basis by the instructor prior to attending training. It will depend on their disability and the effect of this on their ability to cycle. It may be a simple case of asking for extra volunteer support. You could also investigate using a specialist bike in order for the pupil to take part in the training. If you have any concerns, assess the trainee's needs by speaking to the pupil, their parent/guardian, the local authority co-ordinator and anyone else involved in supporting the trainee. The Department for Transport has produced a good practice guide for disability cycle training which can be accessed here.