Thursday, 21 January 2016

The basic, underlying framework for cycling

I'm looking forward to teaching Bikeability level 2 (Introduction to on-road cycling) at a number of local schools this term. We should get the chance to experience the emerging high quality infrastructure: the North South Cycling Superhighway on St George's and Blackfriars Roads; CS7 by Kennington Park; CS5 from Oval over Vauxhall Bridge; maybe even some of the East West Cycling Superhighway.

The basic, underlying framework for cycling is more than cycle tracks - you also need a cycle and to know how to ride it.

Today I visited one of the schools I'll be teaching at later this term to talk to the year 5 pupils (9 year olds) about the forthcoming course and get them enthused. It's not part of the job, but I want the pupils to have a really positive experience so when I have the time I write to the schools and go along if they would like me to.

I'm also trying to identify potential barriers to pupils taking part or doing well, so I ask the children to complete a very short tick-box questionnaire after my talk.

I learnt that:
  • Only 11 of the 38 pupils have working cycles that fit them (20 - over half - don't have a cycle at all).
  • 12 pupils haven't yet learnt how to cycle, so the Bikeability course, for existing riders, isn't suitable for them. Just one has a working cycle that fits (two have a cycle but it's too small, nine don't have a cycle). 
  • 26 pupils can cycle but only 10 have working cycles that fit (11 don't have a cycle, one has a cycle but it's too small, four have cycles that need repair). 
  • The pupils are really keen to have cycle training.
I'll see if some beginner cycle training can also be provided and the the council may loan some cycles to the school for the training week, but some pupils may take a few days to hone their rusty off-road cycling skills and they'll have nothing to practice on after the course. I gave the teachers a few copies of my local advice sheet to hand out - and this may be the perfect place to trial a new yr 5 / 6 community cycle library project I've been doodling up. More on that shortly.