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The Vote: £420k to get on your bike

Public purse keeps cycling lessons for kids trundling on. Is that right?

Published on March 31st 2011.

The Vote: £420k to get on your bike

MERSEYSIDE will retain its status as home of the largest schools’ cycle training scheme in the UK after being awarded £420,000 in government funding to continue its Bikeability programme.

The cash comes from the Department for Transport’s dedicated cycle training fund and will ensure the continuation of Bikeability in Merseyside despite the abolition of Cycling England, the quango that established the scheme five years ago.

It will ensure that schools here can offer cycle training to an additional 10,500 Year 5 and 6 pupils from April 2011 and is part of a national scheme.

Since Bikeability replaced the defunct cycling proficiency test in 2006, 43,000 children have been through the scheme in Merseyside. Run locally through the Merseyside Transport Partnership’s TravelWise campaign, it enables pupils in Years 5 and 6 to take part in coaching sessions that suit their ability, starting with basic cycling and balancing skills and progressing to on-road training.

Neil Scales, Chair of Merseyside Transport Partnership, says: “As the provision of a dedicated budget makes clear, encouraging more people to cycle more often is high on the government’s agenda. We have worked long and hard to promote the economic, environmental and health benefits of cycling in Merseyside, joining with a wide range of organisations to share knowledge and pool resources.

He added: “Using active modes of transportation has major health benefits and it is also critical to reducing carbon in our cities. Cycling couldn’t be more important as we enter the Decade of Health & Wellbeing and we are looking to work with a range of organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors to continue to encourage more people to cycle more regularly.”

And who could argue with that sentiment?

Yet at a time when all manner of care and social services are being cut to the bone, are cycling lessons for ten-and 11-year-olds something we can afford to pay for out of the public purse?

Nobody is denying it is a valuable life skill, but shouldn't learning to balance on a bike be something you learn at home from the grown-ups?

Perhaps, as unemployment reaches a record high, this the best way to equip ourselves for job hunting. Norman “on-yer-bike” Tebbit might have approved, but would he have thrown money at it?

But here on Merseyside, is £420,000 just a drop in the ocean in the great scheme of things and will the health, economic and social benefits far outweigh the outlay.

Vote somewhere half way down the home page.

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Q-BikeMarch 30th 2011.

Surely it is not the schools' responsibility to teach children how to ride a bicycle?
Schoolteachers already have their hands full teaching children such infant basics as how to eat with a knife and fork, recognise their own names and all the other things that today's fat, stupid, feckless parents don't bother to teach their children.

The Cycling Proficiency Test was a test of children who already had bicycles, and if they passed they won a prized triangular lapel badge and a stick-on version for their bicycle.

I confess I found my Cycling Proficiency Badge and I didn't win it - as a child I didn't have a bike.

Outraged of Daily MailMarch 30th 2011.

Health and safety gone mad. And political correctness.

Doc_DaneekaApril 1st 2011.

Totally agree with this. Getting Kids out on bikes safely has got to be way more cost effective than giving them free gym passes and having them hang around the expensives machines not actually doing any exercise.

Though I am concerned that the overall standard of driving in Liverpool and in particular when it comes to the treatment of cyclists is so poor that the kids will be at risk even if they are cycling properly.

The police really need to think about enforcing road laws. stopping at red lights, not texting or phoning, driving on the right side of the road, using indicators, not assuming the speed limit is an absolute minimum to be exceed where at all possible.

Frankly I think that there should be a both a pedestrian and cycling component to the driving test being taken out by an instructor as the most vulnerable of road users and shown what is dangerous might go someway to helping.

Q-BikeAugust 20th 2012.

Hear hear!

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