Cycling safety on the road

Many Gallovidians will have fond memories of passing their Cycling Proficiency Test, whilst in senior primary school. This standard was set in 1958 by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, as the recommended standard for cycling on British roads.

Cycling proficiency was probably delivered in your school by the local community police officer - no doubt he was helped out by the school janitor, who made sure the bikes were safe to be used on the roads.

Nowadays, children receive a much more comprehensive training to give them the skills and confidence to cycle on today’s much busier roads.

Bikeability, as it is now called, has three levels. Level 1, which teaches the basic skills of riding a bike, such as balance, control and making turns, is aimed at Primary 5 children and is playground based. Very few local schools deliver this level.

Bikeability 2 is what we recognise more readily and teaches youngsters in Primary 6/7 to ride a bike safely and to navigate basic junctions. It starts off in the playground, moving to quiet, risk-assessed roads. The vast majority of primary schools in the Rhins and Machars have participated during the last term.

Bikeability 3 is designed for Primary 7/1st year pupils. It teaches how to navigate more complex junctions and how to plan longer journeys on a bicycle. Again, very few schools deliver this level of training.

Nowadays we do not have the luxury of employing cycle trainers or expecting the local police to train the young people. Many schools rely on a dedicated band of trained parents, at times supported by classroom assistants.

Others enlist the support of Active-School Co-ordinators and the local Community Warden team if they cannot find enough parent volunteers.

Cycle training is not all about riding a bike. Increasing the young persons knowledge of the Highway Code, or assisting in the development of their road sense are core aims.

All, whether employed or volunteer are there for one reason only – the safety of our children is paramount.

If you want to know more, or could find a few hours to volunteer to deliver this very necessary training in our local schools, visit www.cyclingscotland.org