- 13 April 2012
Councils have been accused of failing to claim millions of pounds in funding for children’s cycling, even as the Government commits more money to improve training and safety.
This year less than half of children in England and Wales will receive the free cycle training to which they are entitled by law, despite evidence that the courses help to save lives.
Every child is entitled to training worth £40 from the Government to help them to reach level two of the National Standards, which have replaced the former cycling proficiency tests. Level two ensures that children have the skills to ride to their destination on the road and in traffic. But of the 600,000 children aged 10-11, only about 250,000 had free training in the past financial year, according to CTC, the national cycling organisation.
The Department for Transport confirmed this week that a further £11 million would be allocated to train 300,000 children this financial year, with a further £24 million for the following two years.
Greg Woodford, the CTC’s head of cycling training, said: “There is extra funding sloshing around that has not been claimed. The Department for Transport would like to spend it, but not all local authorities claim it.”
In February The Times launched the Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, which includes a manifesto call to improve training for cyclists and drivers, with cyclists’ safety becoming a core part of the driving test.
At present, accessing state-funded cycle training is done through the local authority, which can provide cycle training in a variety of ways. Schemes such as “Bikeability” — which runs in schools across the country — have been shown to increase cycling. But the nationwide scheme has been criticised for not helping children to cope with the kinds of traffic situation they will face.
Plans for the future could lead to more children being trained to level three, which involves learning to deal with the dangers presented by lorries.