Bikeability Spotlight: St Bride's Primary School

28 March 2024    

Last year, a record 60,000 children took part in Bikeability Scotland cycle training across Scotland. More than the entire population of Hamilton, and more than the capacity of Hampden Park.

We visited St Bride's Primary School in Govanhill, Glasgow, to find out more and understand how cycle training is viewed by both pupils and teachers.  

The first thing that strikes you as you walk into St Bride’s is the vibrancy. There is so much going on. How does cycle training fit in? The answers emerge as we talk to P7s Maryam Raza, Amna, Andrei, Daniel, and Luca.

“I never rode a bike until I was six. When I saw other kids, it was very exciting to watch.” For Andrei, it was seeing other children that got him thinking about what was possible on a bike.

Though taught to ride by his grandpa back in Romania, Luca says that it was the training at school that helped him understand that being safe on a bike is about more than just riding it. “I thought it was just going to be inside the school. My friend said to me that we're gonna go outside. I thought he was joking.”

Being out on the road was daunting, but progression happens quickly, as Amna explains: “In the first couple of days, it feels like, oh my gosh, I don't know what I'm doing. What is this? Then you're like, I'm getting the hang of it.” Daniel is also keen to mention the importance of training together and motivating each other, “All my friends were telling me, keep going, keep going.”

In the end, it is achievement that shines through each conversation. Maryam Raza felt, “proud and brave,” while Andrei mentions with a smile, his mum’s reaction, “I went on the road with my friends and practised riding a bike. She said, ‘that's amazing’.”

In their own words

The impact of the training on the children’s travel choices is something highlighted by Miss Rachel Dart, class teacher and trained instructor. “We’ve definitely seen a huge increase in the number of pupils cycling to school and cycling independently around the local area since we started Bikeability Scotland cycle training at St Bride’s. Giving pupils the skills and confidence to ride their bikes safely on the road was a natural next step, seeing as we have Glasgow’s South City Way on our doorstep and Queen’s Park close by and easily accessible by bike.”

The South City Way was mentioned by all the pupils that we spoke to, though not by name. It is just their cycle path; a way to get to the park more easily and safely with, as Amna notes, special “lights that tell you when to stop and when to go.”

Bikeability Scotland Training has got them to the point where this journey is possible and achievable, and that is more than just riding a bike. A fact that Miss Dart is keen to mention, “they’re not only increasing their fitness levels and physical health and wellbeing, but also their road safety skills, independence, resilience, and becoming increasingly responsible members of the local community.”

As the national cycle training programme, Bikeability Scotland takes the form of structured, practical learning that starts in the playground (Level 1) before progressing onto quiet local roads (Level 2). Added to this national picture are the unique elements that each individual school brings to the training.

When asked about this, Miss Dart thinks for a moment before answering with a smile. “Our school is proudly multi-cultural, with more than 20 languages spoken, including Romanian, Slovakian, Italian, Roma, Polish, Spanish and Czech. This mix of languages and cultures makes St Brides a very special place to go to school, but it also makes our Bikeability Scotland sessions a wonderful mix of fresh and interesting perspectives drawn from all over the world.”

Thank you to the pupils and staff of St Bride’s Primary and to photographer, Julie Howden. 

Notes and next steps