At the risk of slipping into some foggy, black and white nostalgia-fest, I loved taking my Cycling Proficiency badge when I was at school.
A yard at the back of the school had been set out as a “typical street” and one our teachers, a committed cyclist and biker, used to take the lessons. It was great and not just because we were out on our bikes in school time and had escaped the classroom for an hour.
We learned a lot of common sense lessons about road safety – whether on a bike, on two feet or even now whilst driving a car.
So I couldn’t help nodding my head enthusisatically as I read about moves to reintroduce the Cycling Proficiency Test to schools in England.
The launch of Bikeability next month comes after a successful pilot project which involved more than 5,000 children and the Government is investing £10m into children’s cycling. This will fund around half of all 10-year-olds to take the Bikeability course.
There are so many reasons why this scheme deserves to be a success.
It is fun, there are health benefits, it could help cut the gridlock congestion of the school run, it makes younger cyclists more aware of the safety issues – this last point is crucial, not least because in the 25 years since I took my badge the amount of traffic on our roads has increased enormously.
Of course, there are now many more dedicated cycle lanes around the country which helps cyclists avoid the traffic-clogged streets. Aren’t there?
Have a proper look around your town or city and particular the route from your home to the local school. Despite reports of added invested in dedicated cycle lanes, the provision of traffic-free routes in most parts of the country is woefully inadequate.
Many local authorities are attempting to reach suggested targets for cycle lanes. But that isn’t enough.
As an initiative created by the Warrington Cycle Campaign, has shown the designation of cycle lanes can often veer off the straight and narrow. Some cycle lanes simply don’t go anywhere and others are simply dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians and even motorists.
The Bikeability scheme is a positive step forward. Getting back on the bikes make sense on so many levels.
Yet it needs to form part of a wider campaign to improve our attitude towards cycling.