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New research from Halfords reveals that 81% of parents say that cycle training is an essential for children before they take a bike to the roads with their friends or without an adult, so that all children can be taught to cycle 'competently, confidently and proficiently' on the roads, amid fears that many are missing out on the chance to take up this fun and essential life skill.

The poll also found that four-in-ten (40%) said they feel children should always have an adult with them when cycling on or near the road. Furthermore, three–in-ten (30%) said they would feel worried that a child would not have a good grasp on road safety.

The survey also found that 83% of parents (up from 56% from last year) want cycling safety to be added to the National Curriculum.

When asked what would make them feel more secure about their kids cycling on the roads, 29% say having dedicated children’s cycling wardens, 27% say interactive cycling clubs and 17%, organised groups of children cycling in tandem to school.

Halfords’ partnership with Bikeability Trust, the national charity for cycling training, the UK government’s cycle education programme, is helping make sure families are cycle-ready as Halfords will provide free bike safety checks for every child taking part in a Bikeability programme, as well as for their parents, teachers and trainers. Bikeability already helps children to learn to cycle safely and will aim to engage more children and parents than ever, not only to become more confident cyclists but to help ingrain cycling into their everyday lives with a view to helping to prompt modal shift across the country. 

Paul Robison from the Bikeability Trust, said; “We are pleased that Halfords have come on board as a partner, being a household name, and with the ability to provide practical support in the form of the bike checks to a lot of families.”

Sam Crabtree from Halfords, said; “It’s a shame children could miss out on the childhood rite of passage of cycling to school – we help parents by instilling cycling confidence in their children, made possible through investing in the Bikeability Trust. The end result is that more children can access teaching about the practical skills and understanding of how to cycle on today’s roads.”

The research also found that:

  • 33% of parents think there should be a special cycling highway code for children
  • 60%  of parents support the proposition of more money being pledged towards cycling safety for children, even if it’s at the expense of other services
  • 35% of children learnt to cycle while at primary school
  • 12% of British families with kids under 12 have at least one family member who doesn’t know how to ride a bike

The cycling training programme is based on the government’s National Standard for cycling and instructor training. It helps beginners to start learning in traffic-free environments before developing their skills and confidence to progress on to local roads to tackling often busier, multi-lane roads and complex junctions.

If you want to cycle with your child to school, here are some simple tips to get you started;

  • Route planning – the route you take by car may not be the best one for walking or cycling. Check out your neighbourhood for quiet roads and dedicated paths - there are often useful cycle route maps produced by local councils or cycle groups
  • Be visible – where you position yourself in the road, your hand signalling and other body language is all important. This will help road users see you
  • Practice – Test your route to school when it isn’t too busy, to build confidence and so you know how long it will take. You may find it helps for you or your child to cycle on other quiet routes or away from traffic to build up handling skills and confidence