Cycle training in the UK differs between England, Scotland and Wales although it does contain many similarities. Wherever you are, cycle training in the UK conforms to a National Standard which sets out the basis for the Bikeability programmes and other adult related cycle training.
“Bikeability is the government’s national cycle training programme. It helps you learn practical skills and understand how to cycle on today’s roads.”
Bikeability is the government’s national cycle training programme, derived from and based on the National Standard. It’s delivered across England by professional, qualified instructors. Whilst it’s primarily delivered to children and young people, the knowledge and skills that make up the scheme are very relevant to cyclists of all ages.
Those that are slightly older amongst us may well remember doing Cycling Proficiency at school as a youngster. Bikeability is the updated and renewed version of the scheme that takes into account the changes that have taken place on our roads in the last 30 to 40 years.
The Bikeability Levels
The core of the programme is delivered across three distinct levels, tailored to meet various levels of abilities and needs.
Level 1 is delivered in a safe location, off of the highway and away from traffic. It covers things such as basic observation skills, cycle control, correct clothing and simple cycle checks. It also provides instructors with an opportunity to assess individual abilities and identify any areas that may need more focus. Level 1 is often delivered in the first session when part of a combined Level 1 & 2 course within schools.
Bikeability Level 2 is delivered on the highway in areas with low traffic volumes and speed (30 MPH or less) and good visibility. It covers correct road positions, starting and stopping, turning left and right into and out of simple junctions and dealing with parked vehicles or similar potential obstructions on the road. Bikeability Level 2 is normally made up of three sessions after Level 1 has been delivered when part of the combined Level 1 & 2 course within schools.
Bikeability Level 3 is the most advanced of the Bikeability levels and is aimed at older cyclists in their teenage years and beyond. It will often be delivered through a journey along a prescribed route (often chosen for it’s use by the person or people attending the training) and covers things like negotiating more advanced junctions while maintaining suitable riding positions. It will often use roads with higher traffic volumes and speeds, taking into account things like bus lanes and traffic queues in busier areas.
Bikeability Level 3 is not currently delivered as part of the funded cycle training scheme, although many local authorities do have some form of provision for it.
In addition to the three core levels of the Bikeability Programme, there are additional areas of training that can be delivered. Learn To Ride Sessions, Bike Fix and other training may be available in your local area so it’s definitely worth checking the Find Cycle Training section of the Bikeability website to see what might be available.
The National Standard
“The National Standard for Cycle Training (the ‘National Standard’) is a statement of competent cycling and cycling instruction. It describes the skills and understanding needed to cycle safely and responsibly, and to enable others to cycle.
The National Standard describes the different ‘roles’ involved in cycling and cycling instruction. Each role is made up of ‘units’, and each unit has one or more ‘elements’. These elements describe competent cycling and cycling instruction in detail.”
The National Standard provides the learning outcomes for the three different Bikeability Levels, as well as the expectations for Instructors and those who deliver training to them.
It’s important to note that The National Standard is not the same as Bikeability but does provide the general framework that the Bikeability Scheme is built around.