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Riding safely

Young people need to be taught the skills to ride safely in busy traffic. Parents and carers need to feel confident that their children are equipped with the skills to cope with today's traffic.

Cycling is a fun and healthy way for children to get about and it also gives them a degree of freedom and independence. However there are  issues which must be addressed if children are to be safe on the road. 

In 2013, 1,958 child cyclists were killed or injured in Great Britain - and although this is lower than the

2005-09 average, even one cyclist death or injury is one too many.


Bikeability is a national standard for cycle training, which has been designed by the leading experts in the field of road safety as well as cycling.
The principal outcome of Bikeability is 'more people cycling more often and more safely'.

Bikeability students are encouraged to learn interactively as opposed to simply telling them what to do.

The Department of Transport and Cycle England commissioned a report published in December 2010 on the perceptions and experiences of children and their parents of Bikeability Training. The conclusions of the report were that Bikeability was extremely worthwhile and highly regarded by both children and their parents.

The full report is available here.

The courses are designed to be both educational and enjoyable with the emphasis on safety. Learning to cycle safely can make an enormous contribution to some of today's biggest challenges, in particular sustainable travel and health. Bikeability is an activity developed to influence travel choice.

At school

In Bedford, Bikeability is delivered mainly through schools. The training is delivered for the council's road safety team by its delivery partner Outspoken cycle training. Outspoken were selected via a competitive tender process in April 2013. The process required that the delivery partner met the highest standards in training and child safety as well as delivering value for money.

Please contact your child's school in the first instance to check if they are running courses and if not, ask them 'why not?' and strongly suggest they consider doing so.

Levels of training

Bikeability is designed to give cyclists the skills and confidence to ride their bikes on today's roads. There are three levels:

  • Level 1

Level one offers basic bike handling skills in a controlled environment away from the roads.

 All lower/primary schools are offered Level 1 training by Outspoken cycle training and there is a nominal charge for this training. Other providers do offer level one training but they are not endorsed by the borough councils road safety team

  • Level 2

Level two is taught on-road and teaches children to cycle planned routes on local familiar roads offering real cycling experience.

All schools with year 5 and 6 cohorts are offered combined level 1 and 2 training during normal school times free of charge. Note:  A child has to be 10 years old or have their tenth birthday during the current academic year to attend combined level 1 and 2 training.

  • Level 3

Level three will ensure cyclists can ride safely and competently in all traffic conditions.

Training is available to schools with pupils in years 7,8,9,10 and 11 free of charge. Please contact the borough councils road safety team on 01234 228142 or to discuss your requirements. Participants must be able to provide evidence that they have attained  Level 2 before taking Level 3.

For young people who have not been able to access a combined level 1 and 2 course through their school, training in the summer school holiday's, may be offered by the councils' Summer Sports Scheme. Visit the Summer sports courses page for more information. 

Participation in training

As well as teaching young riders to be safe cyclists, Bikeability aims to develop children as responsible road users and to help them understand how they can help to protect themselves on the road by cycling safely, wearing a helmet and bright clothing.

Participants at all levels will need to provide a roadworthy bike; training takes place on-road, mixing with traffic under controlled conditions.

Bikes considered un-roadworthy will not be allowed to be used on the training.

Before the training starts, parents are given guidance on how to carry out bike safety checks. The guidance can be downloaded here (PDF). 

Participants will need to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is recommended for all cyclists, but it is especially important for children. Children often have less control over their movements on a bike and are more likely to make errors of judgement. If involved in an incident, a helmet can dramatically reduce the risk of a head injury.

BMX style helmets are not allowed. They restrict both hearing and visibility both key senses for staying safe on the road. 

Trainees  who participate in Level 2 or 3  training will ride on the road. The purpose of the training is to help them be safer when cycling on the road. We take the following measures  to maximise safety during the training:

  • All instructors are fully trained
  • All instructors are monitored regularly
  • All trainees and instructors wear hi-visibility items of clothing 
  • All training sites are risk assessed and the instructors carry out ongoing dynamic risk assessments throughout the training

For more information about Bikeability visit the website.

The East Region Instructor Training Organisation (ITO)

Bedford Borough Council, working alongside Cambridgeshire County Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Essex County Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Luton Borough Council, Peterborough City Council, Southend Borough Council and Suffolk County Council have formed the East Region ITO in order to further support cyclist training both within Bedford Borough and across the eastern region. 

The East Region ITO is recognised by the Department for Transport as having met a standard and forms one of 18 instructor training organisations.

All accredited national standards cycling instructors are required to affiliate with at least one ITO, and membership of the East Region ITO is currently £25 per annum. 

The East Region ITO has the mandate to train national standards cycling instructors (NSI's) and to train accredited instructors who themselves  wish to train instructors. It will provide a range of courses for the continual professional development of NSI's and will be organising a half-day conference annually for its membership.

More details are available on a dedicated Eastern Region ITO website.

Contact the Road Safety team


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