Artist and a tai chi teacher, Jamie Simpson talks about being bike dad, keeping things light and the value of a knowledge refresh. 

I cycled in Glasgow City Centre for years because I went to art school following school and couldn't afford a car, so that was my main mode of transport. I missed my - what was Bikeability - or what they were providing at school back then. The road safety thing on bikes. So I kind of learned on the hoof, on the fly, if you like, and I thought, I really want to know more about what I should be doing.

When the kids started going to school, I acquired the reputation as bike dad in the playground. I would have one of them on the back of the bike and the other one cycling up beside me, on the way up and down to school. So when the call went out for cycling instructors, they sent me an email and I thought - do you know what, I would really like to know what they're teaching, because I've never had a formal education, and I don't mind doing this. It would be really nice to pass on those skills and make sure that the kids are actually safe.

I'm an artist and a tai chi teacher, so I work from home most of the time, so I can usually move things about and try and get a bit of time to offer the school to do it. So most of it is common sense, especially if you ride on the roads. I'm definitely more aware of what you should be doing in order to keep yourself safe. And that's great. That's why I did it.

My dad was always really good with kids. We went to the church a lot and he had lots of jokes and tricks. My mum claims that I have inherited his magic.

Most of them are enthusiastic because they're getting out of the classroom for a wee while, so they're quite happy. There's your usual mix. There are always the ones that want to take the mickey out of you. Some of them are very, very nervous. This might be their second or third try, or maybe they've only done the playground session the year before. And you've really got to try and support them as best you can and try and keep it light and have a good sense of humour about it. Impress on them the seriousness of the fact that they will be going on the road, but at the same time, try not to overdo it. It's a balance.

Yeah, they do challenge you. I do remember one kid. He wouldn't pay attention to what he was doing on the road and and he wasn't going to get to do it anymore. And I thought - he's not that bad, he just needs someone to spot him a bit better and he can do this. So I said, “look, I think he can do it”, and we got him through. And his old man got in touch with me and said, "listen, thanks very much". And that three-week period, that was my eureka moment.

My youngest, he's in P5 just now, so I should be doing his sessions next year. I got to do one of the classes with my oldest. We managed to get it set up and after the first week, I got COVID, so that was me. I only got one session with James's class, and I was gutted because he is ostensibly the reason I was doing it in the first place. But hopefully I'll get to teach Alexander's class and that'll be fun. They're very funny. They're just a really nice class, so it should be fun teaching those guys.

Jamie is a Bikeability Scotland volunteer in East Renfrewshire

Bikeability volunteer Jamie and his family on bikes in a rural area

Interested in becoming a Bikeability Scotland volunteer?

Would you like to be involved in helping to teach children to ride confidently and safely? The first step is to contact your Bikeability Scotland Coordinator to find out if your local area needs new volunteers.