Children’s cycle training hits new record in Scotland
12 September 2023
Almost two-thirds of Scottish schools participated in on-road cycle training in the last academic year, setting a new national record.
Figures, collated by Cycling Scotland, reveal that in the 2022-23 session, more than 60,000 children took part in Bikeability Scotland training. This is in stark contrast to the nearly three in four adults in Scotland who have never received any formal cycle training.
Bikeability Scotland, the national cycle training programme for school children, helps to increase road safety awareness in young people, equipping them with the skills and confidence to make everyday trips by bike more safely. The programme is free for pupils and is funded by Cycling Scotland, the national cycling charity, through grant funding from Transport Scotland.
When Bikeability Scotland was introduced in 2010 only 31.5% of primary schools delivered on-road cycle training. Since then, the programme has grown significantly, with the last academic year seeing a 20% increase in participation from the previous year.
Apart from Glasgow, every participating local authority in Scotland has increased or maintained their delivery of school cycle training in the last year. Nine local authorities delivered Bikeability in every school.
David Collins, Bikeability Scotland Manager, said: “Learning to cycle is an essential life skill so it’s phenomenal to see record numbers of young people gaining the skills and confidence to travel by bike. It proves that investment delivers results, and we really hope to see these numbers continue to grow into the future.
“The training that schoolchildren receive through Bikeability Scotland unlocks a whole range of benefits that will serve them throughout their lives, creating greater transport independence and supporting healthier, more environmentally friendly lifestyles. The positive impact of Bikeability Scotland on bike ownership and amount of cycling is greatest in schools with a higher proportion of pupils eligible for Free School Meals.
“Our research highlights the importance of teaching at school, to maximise the number of people reached who can use the training now and later in life. Countries with the highest levels of cycling, such as the Netherlands, still provide national cycle training schemes for school children. Together with building a network of safe, dedicated cycle lanes and preventing dangerous driving, Bikeability Scotland training is essential to support children to cycle.”
Councillor Carol Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Developing our Young People said: “Bikeability Scotland is a fantastic initiative, and it is great to see it moving from strength to strength with unprecedented delivery rates this year.
“The independence and confidence the programme allows the children to have is life-long and it also encourages general health and well-being and the ability to form a good habit for life. It is also a big step in promoting and supporting cycling locally.
“Scottish Borders is the largest authority to date to achieve a 100 per cent delivery which is great news for the region and something we are very proud of."
Andy Gallagher, Head Teacher at Holy Family Primary School in Lenzie commented: “Pupil feedback on Bikeability Scotland sessions has been very positive, with many saying that their confidence has improved and reporting a greater interest in cycling more in future.
“From a school perspective, we see this as promoting active travel, health and wellbeing and sustainability. We also recognise that Bikeability Scotland teaches life skills that will benefit pupils for years to come. We look forward to continuing the partnership and offering this excellent opportunity to future primary 7s.”
Harry, a P7 pupil from Williamston Primary School, West Lothian, commented on the training: “I thought we would just be doing different games or different activities on the bikes. It was more like what you would actually do on the road or in real life. Teaching you those skills that you actually need. And I think that's what we really did when we did Bikeability.”
More information, including which schools are currently offering the training, along with more guidance and support for schools, parents, instructors and local authorities, can be found on the Bikeability Scotland website.
 60.3% of primary schools in participating Local Authorities across Scotland ran Bikeability Scotland on-road cycle training.
 71% of 1,001 Scotland-based adults (aged 18+) surveyed online by YouGov between the 3rd and the 7th of August 2023.
 2-3 times as many primary school pupils scored highly on hazard perception tests after doing Bikeability Scotland training, compared to those who had not completed the training.