Council pledges to give all primary school pupils cycle training by 2016

I Bike co-ordinator Lynn Stocks puts some schoolchildren through their cycling paces. Picture: contributed
I Bike co-ordinator Lynn Stocks puts some schoolchildren through their cycling paces. Picture: contributed
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ALL primary pupils across the Capital will get on-the-road cycle training by 2016, council transport chiefs have vowed.

Children would be given all the skills needed to get around the city on two wheels under the bold plans.

It would make Edinburgh the first city in Scotland to train pupils in all its schools to the national standard – known as Bikeability Level 2.

At the moment, cycling classes are provided in 51 schools, but the council’s Local Transport Strategy 2014-2019 would see this rolled out to all 88 primaries.

The plans were universally backed by cycling safety campaign groups – including Cycling Scotland, which has promised a £20,000 grant for equipment.

Lynne McNicoll set up the Andrew Cyclist Charitable Trust after she lost her stepson Andrew, 43, in a cycling incident with an HGV on Lanark Road in January 2012.

She said: “Good on them. All we have ever wanted is to make it as safe as possible for cyclists on our roads.

“This really bodes well for the future that they are prepared to make such a commitment to the city’s children.”

The Scottish Government outlined a vision to train all primary children to Bikeability Level 2 in its Cycling Action Plan 2013.

However, until now it had been seen as an aspiration rather than a key target for most cities.

City council cycling spokesman Jim Orr, lodged a motion calling for “focus” on the ambitious goal at December’s full council meeting.

He said: “We are determined to succeed and are taking the target very seriously. Bikeability is a vital part of our active travel action plan.

“Added to infrastructure improvements across the city and plans for more 20mph zones, this means that we continue to improve the environment for cyclists in this city.”

UK cycling charity Sustrans will work with the city council to deliver the project, which will also aim to benefit the I Bike scheme, set up to tackle inequalities in the cycling population.

Keen cyclists at primary level often drop their interest when they move to secondary, while fewer girls enjoy taking to the saddle than boys.

Charlotte Gardiner, Sustrans’ I Bike Officer for Edinburgh, said: “I am delighted to hear that all children in Edinburgh will now receive Level 2 Bikeability training.

“This training, which is delivered both in the playground and on the road, will equip children across the Capital with the skills and confidence they need to cycle more often. It will also provide reassurance for parents.

“It is great to see Edinburgh taking the lead with this, and hopefully other local authorities will follow suit.”

Last year, the number of casualties among cyclists on Scottish roads rose nine per cent to 901, serious injuries were up seven per cent to 167 and the number of deaths increased by two to nine. In total, there were 1164 child casualties, including two fatalities.

Chris Hill of popular city cycling forum CityCycling, also hailed the council’s plans.

He said: “This is good news. It’s been clear for a long time that schools that have a commitment to cycling, such as Sciennes and Stenhouse, do a really good job.

“The council has consistently underestimated the amount of time and effort this involves and has so far been unable to support and encourage schools adequately.

“Now there seems to be a genuine will to enable schools to achieve it.”