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200,000 children to benefit from £10m of cycle training 31.03.09

Over 200,000 more school children in England will have the opportunity to have Bikeability training this year thanks to £10m of government funding, earmarked today by Transport Minister Paul Clark as part of the official launch of Bikeability for 2009.

This funding is part of a record £140m package which aims to give up to half a million children the chance to take part in Bikeability - the National Cycle Training Standard - by 2012.

Whilst visiting cycling schemes in the North West Paul Clark said; "Having the skills to cycle to school and make other local journeys has never been more important, especially as it helps children and young people reach the 60 minutes of activity recommended by the Government’s ’Change4Life’ campaign.

"That’s why I’m so pleased that by this time next year 350,000 children will have done their Bikeability training, which puts us ahead of our target to deliver 500,000 additional training places by 2012. "I will be doing my own Bikeability training next week and, like the children I’ve met today, I look forward to hopefully receiving my Bikeability badge."

With 41% of all trips in England being less than two miles, a distance which can be cycled in less than 15 minutes, cycling has a major role to play in promoting sustainable travel and improving health and fitness. Bikeability allows children to learn essential road safety skills and gain greater awareness of the dangers on the road - giving parents the reassurance to allow them to undertake short journeys, especially cycling to school.

This funding supports the continued development of Bikeability training which is promoted in England by Cycling England. £5.4m will go to local authorities to provide Bikeability cycle training; £4m will go to the Youth Sport Trust to deliver cycle training in schools through the School Sports Partnerships; and £500,000 will be given as bursary grants to help fund 1,600 new Bikeability trainers.

Philip Darnton Chairman of Cycling England said; "We are determined to make 2009 the year of Bikeability and this funding is a tremendous start. Learning to ride a bike is a life skill and with the engagement of local authorities and the School Sport Partnerships around the country, we are working to give all young people the opportunity to get Bikeability training within the next 3 years" Bikeability is supported by the 18 cycling demonstration areas programme which promotes cycling and spreads best practice for other areas to learn from as well as a further 70 local highway authorities outside of London and Transport for London. Department for Transport is also working to improve travel links to schools, connecting 500 schools via traffic calmed or traffic-free routes to the wider national cycle network by 2011.

The Bikeability scheme is a new training standard designed to provide children with the on-road skills they need to handle modern traffic conditions. It was launched in March 2007. See http://www.bikeability.org.uk

Peter Shield

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